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Pokémon Heroica Legends: An Undesired Hope

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
2018 cover - Copy.png


Civilisation is dependent on an ancient source of energy, Bestia, but is soon to face an energy crisis. As the Pokémon of Heroica quickly deplete Bestia from their world, they lose the power to perform Pokémon attacks and abilities, whilst nature gradually decays.

Legend has it that in the world’s darkest hour, six heroes will shine against the inevitable ruin and restore the world’s energy. With hope in their hearts, Heroicans hold strong that the legend will come true and their world will one day be saved.

Guided by their personal conflicts, the lives of these chosen Pokémon could not be more different, yet their fates intertwine as the Shining Warriors. They each set out on a grand journey that will see them face conflicts larger than they could ever imagine. Morals clash with reason and emotion as they decide the fate of the world.

Cover art credit: Aquabluu
Banner art credit: MuzYoshi

Dark themes
Foul language
Fantasy violence
Sexual references
Episode 1: Clash on Fossil Hill (Stay tuned for updates!)
 
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Lucca Episode 1: Reason and Strength

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Lucca - Copy.png

Lucca Episode 1: Reason and Strength



“I hate this, I hate this, I hate this I hate this I hate this!” Lucca shouted. The young Popplio was trying to hold a sword that was twice his height, but he couldn’t stay upright for more than a second. With a growl and a roar, he gave up and threw the weapon down. It clanged on the hard, red ground.

“This is stupid. If I’m going to be a hero, then why am I using a sword? Who gives a Popplio a sword?” he shouted at the top of his voice.

The silence of the mountains answered him. Hollow wind, a grumbling lava flow in the distance, and the rumble of his stomach. Everything had a nasty, wine-red colour besides the valleys and holes littered all over the place where streams of lava could be seen. This lava was blue, and even sent blue embers into the steamy air.

Tall mountains to his sides shielded him from easy view, but if he went any further, he would go out into an open wasteland where barely a dead tree could be seen. Out there, predators wouldn’t hesitate to strike. He took a deep breath and crossed his flippers.

“It’s cold, there’s been no sign of anything, this is taking long, and I’m so hungry,” he groaned as he sat back. “Stupid Dad, stupid weapon, stupid training, stupid—”

A few pebbles crumbled beside him, and he flinched. He shut right up and his heart began to race, but he forced himself to focus. He spun to stand up straight and used the handle of his sword to balance. If he held it straight down, he could stand on his tail flippers and not fall over.

He kept silent as he slowly stepped around his sword to scan the area. Nothing moved but the wind and the greyish red clouds above. He looked to where the rocks could have fallen from, and focused his sight on that ledge.

Alright you. I know you’re there. No point hiding from me now,” he growled in his mind.

But moments passed, yet nothing moved. He knew better than to give in to impatience during a situation like this. He was being watched, and the moment he showed a sign of weakness, his stalker would attack. He needed to get out of here, or at least be ready for their attack.

Just as he began to edge his way back up the slope, a strong breeze hit, chilly enough to stop him in place. He shielded his face as he searched for the source, though he found nothing, still. After it stopped, he turned to the left, then the right, then behind him, and back up the slope. He couldn’t spot anyone.

He held his breath. The thing he was looking for had drifted right in front of him so casually that he didn’t notice right away. The papery body of a Kartana, blades bared and folds stretched out, floated out of reach above him. It remained silent, so perhaps it hadn’t realised that he’d seen it. It brought both blades together, pointed them forward, and then dove towards him.

“No you don’t!” Lucca growled. With a shout and a cry, he spun to build momentum and swung his sword, and just barely managed to clash with the Kartana. The impact jolted them both back and his sword flew out of his flippers. He fell on his back, but kept his eyes on the Kartana the whole time.

“Shoot,” he whispered. Kartana opened out, screeched at him, and swung its blades through the air as if to intimidate. “Okay Lucca, don’t panic.

He glanced down the slope to see his sword stabbed into the ground. “Good, rolling distance. Just dodge, get it back, and take that thing out.

He rolled onto his front to await its next move, his body tense. Curiously, the Kartana repeatedly stretched its blades out. “Huh? Is it… trying to use Leaf Blade?

Whatever it was trying to do, nothing came of it. He contemplated making a break for his sword, but before he could, Kartana slapped its blades together and flew towards him.

He was ready. Just before Kartana hit, he deftly rolled to his side to dodge and then dove for his sword. However, Kartana was fast. By the time he had a flipper on his weapon, Kartana was in front of him. It hacked away at him, but he dodged each slash with desperate movements. With a flipper on his sword to keep his body upright, he bent his body to the left to dodge a stab, then leaned to the right to avoid a horizontal slash, where he then let go to perform a backflip. His tail flippers kicked the Kartana away. It screeched at him wildly.

Alright, I can do this.” He concentrated. Kartana was back to stretching and screeching at him, so he pulled his sword and held it tight in both flippers. His eyes never diverted from Kartana. “What’s the matter, Fartana? Had enough already?”

That got the enemy to move, and Lucca was ready to retaliate in kind. He made sure his grip was tight and his body was loose, and began to spin with all his might. His sword once again clashed against Kartana’s blades, but the impact knocked them both back. Lucca felt his balance thrown off again, and focused on not letting go of his sword. In doing so, he took his eyes off Kartana for that one moment. And that was all it took for it to surprise him.

Before he could reposition himself, Kartana was in his face with blades bared. He cried out as he scrambled into a defensive stance, but the way Kartana slashed at him, he was thrown around like a ragdoll. After three desperately blocked slashes, Kartana caught his flipper with a vertical attack. Lucca yelled at the top of his voice and reeled back.

He wanted to say something cocky, but all that came out were whimpers as he fell back and clutched that flipper. Searing pain that coursed through him as he lost control of that flipper. It hurt worse than anything he’d ever felt. Yet still, Kartana loomed over him with a triumphant screech.

“N-no, s-stop, get away!” he gasped. He let go of his wound to wave his flipper about, but flinched when Kartana shifted toward him. His breaths grew frantic as his view of everything but the Kartana blurred. It raised its blades to finish him off.

He coiled up and took in a breath to brace for the worst. But after a moment, he felt no pain besides the constant burn from his arm wound, and dared to open his eyes. Kartana had both of its blades held against the blade of a far longer, far thinner sword. He shuddered as he looked up to see a familiar Primarina stood over him, effortlessly rigid in a defensive stance.

“Krakeeek!” Kartana screeched as it swooped back for more. It threw its whole body into slash after slash after slash, but Primarina didn’t budge an inch. And when Kartana backed off in frustration, he instantly reacted with a slash in a wide arc. Kartana looked to have been cleaved in two, but was only knocked back. It let out a winded cry as its body dangled for a moment, and then it took off in a tantrum.

That was all Lucca saw before his strength started to give way. He hadn’t realised how weak he had become until he looked back at his wound, and nausea drowned his mind. He shouldn’t have looked, as the wound was worse than he thought. He let out a shuddered breath as he fell on his side, his head a daze while his body succumbed to the burning pain that coursed through it.







When he came to, it was apparent that hours had passed. He floated in a pool of luminous blue liquid, his body submerged while his nose, mouth, and eyes were the only parts to float above the surface. Now this was an experience he was used to, unlike that stupidly heavy sword he was expected to learn to fight with.

“Again,” he sighed.

He wasn’t relaxed. The only reason he would be here in the castle’s mystic healing pool was if he failed an objective and got hurt. This was his fourth time this week, so it was a feeling he loathed to have gotten used to.

At least it worked. He lifted his wounded flipper and stared, unamazed by its perfect state. It was hard to picture it had been sliced open before. With another sigh, he righted himself and swam to the exit, surprised to find the Primarina from before watching him.

“Dad,” he muttered.

“That’s Father to you,” the serene male replied. This Primarina lacked pearls in his hair, so it was long and straight in style. He had his sword at his side too, a tachi that was as long as he was tall when he stood on his tailfins.

Lucca growled at the remark. “Whatever, Father. That went as well as expected.”

“Do you understand why you failed, Lucca?” Father said.

“Anyone with eyes could tell. That sword is way too heavy for me. There’s no way I can take on a monster that fast when I’m lugging around that heavy piece of metal. And to top it all off, I’m so hungry I could eat a rock,” he said. Father’s eyes narrowed.

“Your reward for a successful victory is a meal. So if you cannot hunt a Kartana, then you will simply starve.” Father shook his head.

“Wait wait wait don’t be like that, there’s got to be a better way to do this!” he cried as Father turned to leave. “Maybe if you actually let me use my Pokémon attacks, I might stand a chance?”

“Don’t even try, Lucca. This training is not a joke!” Father said.

“But that leaves me at way more a disadvantage than is fair. I mean, we’re still talking about a grass type versus a water type, here. I don’t stand a chance if I can’t use bubbles or anything.” He folded his flippers.

“You know exactly why you cannot do that. And even if I allowed it, the world will not permit you,” Father said. He slithered through the castle hallways like an Ekans. One flipper kept his sword at his side to stop it from dragging across the floor. “Until Bestia is restored, Pokémon attacks and abilities will never function. If you cannot learn to use a weapon, then you will never learn to defend yourself.”

“But I’ve seen you make bubbles before. That’s gotta be Bubble Beam or something, right?” he said.

“Bubbles of air are a basic body function for us, Lucca. They do not require Bestia,” Father said.

“Wait, so you’re saying I could use bubbles all this time? I-I can blow useless bubbles, but I can’t use the actual move Bubble? That doesn’t even make any sense! This blows,” he said. His stomach growled and he slumped over. “Either way, this isn’t getting done. I’m dizzy from hunger back here.”

“You need to improve on many things, Lucca. From your conduct to your ability in battle, and most importantly, your priorities,” Father said. “The rule still stands. Until you learn to use a weapon and hunt that Kartana, you will not get food.”

“But that’s like, argh, who fights on an empty stomach, and who gives a Popplio a sword? I can’t do this, Dad!” he cried. Father grumbled something as they came to a stop.

Their walk had taken them to the throne room, which overlooked the main entrance to the castle. On this upper floor were two thrones themed after scalchops and Staryu, and a thin waterway that drew a pattern across the floor of the room. Everywhere was empty, even though the red stone walls and smooth, tiled floor appeared to be well maintained. Actually, there was one Pokémon who appeared to be waiting for them. A fluffy gentleman of a Ribombee that was half the size of Primarina. Lucca frowned as Ribombee waved at the duo.

“Lucca, if there’s one thing that’s improving, it’s your volume. I could hear you from all the way back here,” Ribombee said, and laughed.

“What now, Alver?” he groaned.

“I’m here to help you this time, of course. Although this won’t guarantee success, it should at least stop you from losing your life,” Alver said, and bowed. He unveiled a wooden magic staff from behind him, topped with a, clear, crescent shaped crystal. An orb rested on the centre of the crescent. “I can only help you through talking, Pollen Puff, and any enemy that isn’t a Kartana.”

“Pollen Puff?” Lucca’s eyes brightened, and he drooled.

“Not that kind, Your Highness. These ones are to patch the skin, not to eat.” Alver smiled. “Shall we? Before your stomach starts talking for you again.”

“There’s no way I can do this, though,” he sighed.

“Our mission starts from in here, actually. Your task is to harvest the blades of a Kartana, correct? And the only way to do that is to defeat one. They’re very aggressive monsters,” Alver said. He tapped Lucca’s head with the tip of his staff. “Your attempts so far have been bold, as has your skill in battle. But you must think.”

“I’ve got the thinking part down, but thinking’s useless when it’s mission impossible.” Lucca scratched the back of his head. Alver led him downstairs while Father went to sit in one of the thrones.

“Well first of all, details. Your father said that you must learn to use a weapon, correct? But he did not say what weapon to use,” Alver said with a single arm raised. That made Lucca pay attention. “You keep using that heavy sword you forged out of Celesteela metal… but what about the shield you got from the Stakataka stones?”

“Uwa, both of them are heavy as heck, that’s why I don’t use it!” Lucca cried, smacking his head. “Besides, how can you beat a monster with just a shield? You can’t.”

“We are Pokémon, Lucca. We are the resourceful creatures that have adapted to live without our moves or abilities. We can find a way to do anything,” Alver said. “Shall we depart? Time will not wait for us.”

“I don’t want to do this,” Lucca groaned as he led the way out.

The world outside the castle was as gloomy as he felt now, and not much different to the wasteland he’d fainted in earlier. Dark, dead lands smothered by a smoky sky and a tasteless, chilly wind. Beyond the moat that ran over a river of blue lava was what was known as a field only in name. A few dead trees as grey as stone, crusty, solid soil that made the ground lumpy and obnoxious to walk on, and broken fences made entirely of rotten wood. An uncomfortable mixture of humid atmosphere and chilly wind blew wherever they went.

If we’re trying for a new weapon, maybe the village is the better choice. Maybe I can harvest something there,” Lucca thought. “Why are we doing all this, Alver?”

“I believe only you can answer that, Your Highness. Do you not want to?” Alver replied.

“Of course not. I’d way rather sit in the castle and read more. Instead I’m out here trying to get stronger to fight… or something like that. I don’t know why I’m training and stuff. Dad – I mean Father – mentioned something about becoming a hero, but I haven’t the slightest clue what he’s on about,” he said.

“To tell you the exact truth, we were going to make you a new set of swords out of Kartana arms. Observing you, I do believe those would be your best weapon,” Alver said, a sneaky smile on his face.

“You’d make me a new sword? Out of those things? Okay that sounds awesome, but is it really worth the work? I’m literally killing myself over this stuff,” he said.

Alver began to slow. “I’ve not heard you so discouraged before.”

“Because I’m really not enjoying this anymore. I know I’ve gotta listen to Dad and—”

“Father, Lucca. You got it right earlier. Practice your conduct,” Alver said. Lucca sighed.

“I know I have to listen to Father, but I just don’t know why I’m doing all this anymore. Making weapons, getting stronger, trying to play this ‘hero’ role he wants me to play. Hero of what? We’re the only Pokémon in the whole world besides those monsters,” he said, throwing his flippers up as he rambled.

“I may get into trouble for saying this, but… there’s something very important we’re keeping from you,” Alver said. Lucca froze. “You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that this is all for a very good reason. It’ll pay off, and when it does, I’m sure you’ll be one of the happiest Pokémon in the world.”

“Not a very high bar to beat. There’s only three of us,” he said, and resumed his walk through the field. “I’m probably already the happiest Pokémon in Reverie. Not like you and Da- er, Father, not like you and Father smile very much.”

“I wish I could tell you right now. You sound like you need a booster,” Alver said. He habitually swung his staff side to side, but stopped when he nearly bumped into Lucca.

“Maybe you can. Why can’t you tell me?” Lucca said with half-lidded eyes. There was a long pause. “We’re friends, right? Just make it a secret.”

“More like master and servant, or retainer and crown prince if I’m being specific. But regardless, king’s orders. You wouldn’t understand the gravity of the situation if I was to dump everything on you now.” Alver folded his arms.

“Oh yeah, sure. Let me guess, it’s because I’m not old enough.” Lucca folded his flippers, too.

“Bullseye, Lord Lucca.”

“Oh come on! Fourteen is double digits. Numbers don’t go much higher than that,” he said.

“… They go far higher than that, Lord Lucca,” Alver sighed, resuming their trip.

“So what if they do? It doesn’t matter. None of this stuff matters!” he cried. “We’re the only Pokémon in the world, and you two just keep making me read these old books and fight all those monsters and stuff. There’s just like, no reason for it anymore.”

“Then why did you partake in all this in the first place?” Alver asked.

“Because it was fun. And I used to think that you two were super smart because you’re older, so I did everything you told me to do without question. But none of this makes any sense anymore. I’m suffering, and it doesn’t look like you’re enjoying that,” he said.

“Suffering isn’t really the right word, is it?” Alver slumped to his side.

“I haven’t eaten a thing since yesterday! Seriously, I’m gonna turn inside out if I don’t get fed soon. That’s suffering!” he cried.

“Hmm. Well, we can’t have that, can we? But I believe I can leave a hint. Something that tells you to think outside the box when it comes to your problems,” Alver said.

“Think outside the box? What the heck does that mean? Actually, forget it. Instead, just tell me,” he said. Alver cleared his throat.

“You spent a year or so reading those books, didn’t you? And you found that fun?” Alver asked.

“Yes? Reading is kinda fun, still. But what about it?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Do you remember what those books were about?”

“Heroica, right? Where all that stuff called nature is. It’s all fantasy, but it was all written super well. Books sure do a good job of making you feel like you’re somewhere you’re not—”

“Ahem. Lucca, who do you think wrote those books?” Alver said.

Lucca raised a flipper to answer, but no words came out. Just that one question felt like he’d been hit by a punch full of knowledge. Alver’s point seemed so obvious and clear, that this was right in his face for all those years, yet he had hadn’t noticed it until now. Still, he had to make sure. “Did… Did Father write them?”

“Him? Write anything? With what? There’s a reason we haven’t taught you to write.” Alver laughed.

Lucca stopped and choked. “That- wait, then how? If there’s nothing to write with, then that means the books…”

“Go on,” Alver said. Lucca stalled for a moment, and then hung his head.

“I don’t know. Maybe they’re just super old and were written when there was stuff to write with. If that even makes any sense,” he said, going quieter at every word. He folded his flippers and looked away. “Is he trying to tell me that Heroica is real? There’s no way that’s where the books came from. Reverie is the world. But if it were real, that would mean all my training so far has been so that I can go there or something. Nah, it couldn’t be.

A loud blast suddenly went off, followed by a rally of cries and a huge cloud of smoke not far in the distance. The village wasn’t far in that direction, so they both exchanged glances and then took off.

Just like the field, this area barely qualified as a village even though it had the name. It had more rotten fencing around it, dead trees, and a few small mountains that hid it from view. Its main features were a valley that ran down the centre, and a collection of giant stone streetlamps scattered all around like discarded tools. All of the lamps were unlit and engraved with ancient markings, but had weathered to point of being unreadable. Everywhere in this village was grey and dusty, unlike the hard red rock in the rest of Reverie.

“What?” Lucca whispered, jaw dropped. Alver wasn’t much better, but posed with his staff to prepare for battle.

The village was normally the quiet home of harmless Poipole, but right now, they were screaming over a fight. The purple monsters flew around a Buzzwole and a Kartana, who both cried out as they strafed a set of much smaller foes. Lucca kept his distance until Buzzwole happened to move into a spot that let him see the enemy, and then he gasped louder than ever before.

There were three creatures he had never seen before, and all of them barked angrily at the two monsters. One of them was a tall, sleek, fox-like creature with a snow-white fur coat and a huge, bushy tail full of coils.

Wait a minute, are they Pokémon?” Lucca gasped in his mind as realised that the fox resembled the smaller fox beside it. The smaller fox Pokémon had a similar white coat, only its tails were neater and separated. He counted six coiled tails, while the body was more cub-like compared to the mature form of the taller fox.

Lastly, the one that stood out the most. A teddy bear with finer fur than the others, a round, pink body, and thick brown legs. He thought its face was adorable, but right now it snarled viciously. It held a bloodstained knife in its jaw.

“I can’t believe it. How, how are there Pokémon here?” Alver whispered just loud enough for Lucca to hear him.

“What? Alver, what are they?” Lucca cried.

“Shush!” Alver hissed, but it was too late. All eyes turned to him and Alver.

In that moment, the pink Pokémon barked and charged forward at an unexpected speed. It bashed knife-first into Buzzwole’s chest with so much force that the swollen Pokémon was knocked off its legs. It crashed to the ground in a crumbling heap of dust and broken stone, and didn’t stand back up.

Kartana was luckier. It turned just in time to see the two fox Pokémon, and shifted away as they leapt up to bite it. Kartana then put its blades together and swooped down after them for a counterattack, but the fox Pokémon were quick. The two split up and dashed to the left and right as white blurs. In a flash, Kartana was surrounded by the three Pokémon.

The battle was far from won, however. All four monsters barked and shouted feral cries to each other, and then engaged in a riot of a fight. They clawed, bit, and tackled one another in a dusty moment of scrapes and shouts, all moving at a speed that was tough to make out in the grey of the area. But as far as Lucca could tell, Kartana’s thin body made it difficult for the Pokémon’s attacks to land. They were cut and stung here and there, but Kartana avoided everything.

“They’re going to lose. Alver, we have to help them,” Lucca said, and glanced at his friend.

“That might be too dangerous. They’re—”

“Kartana will kill them if we don’t!” he raised his voice.

“You don’t have any of your weapons. What do you intend to do?” Alver said. Lucca growled and glanced at the battle, and then nodded. He ran towards them, leaving Alver with an arm hung forward and a dumb look on his face. “Lucca!”

“I’ll do something!” he called. By the time he reached them, the larger fox Pokémon was hurt and being tended to by the smaller fox, while the bear continued to take on Kartana. “Hey you, leave them alone!”

The battle stopped in an instant, and his blood turned cold as all eyes went on him. “Uh oh. Bad move, Lucca.”

Kartana was the first to move. It came after him with its usual method of attack, both blades slapped together to slash him. Lucca had seen this enough times to dodge it on habit, but without a weapon, he was anxious for a safe way to retaliate. He rolled and leapt about, and each of Kartana’s missed attacks left marks on the floor or the lamps.

Lucca eventually dove to create distance, but when he rolled to his front, his heart jumped. The pink bear Pokémon was charging towards them. He stuck out a flipper before the two engaged again. But Kartana was already riled up from trying to kill him, so it was more than ready for the approach.

“No, don’t! Get away!” he cried.

The pink Pokémon attempted to tackle Kartana, but was knocked off-balance by a swift upward slash, barely blocked by the knife in its mouth. That wouldn’t save it from Kartana’s free arm, which easily cut right into the Pokémon’s face.

An ear-splitting howl filled the air. The pink Pokémon punched Kartana away and then stumbled around to stifle its agony. It had its front feet held over its left eye, where a wound had opened.

“No,” Lucca whispered.

His eyes glazed over and everything blurred except that wounded Pokémon. All he could hear was its pathetic cries. The blood in the grey world felt like it awakened something in his chest. He couldn’t think straight, and his fears dissipated. All he knew was he needed to do everything he could to help, and now.

A heavy woosh brought him back to reality. Kartana swooped in to finish off the Pokémon, but he wasn’t going to have it. He dashed in front of the pink Pokémon and snatched its knife which had been dropped after the hit. He drew his whole body back and slashed, where he clashed against one of Kartana’s blades.

“Lucca!” Alver cried, still at a distance.

Unlike in Lucca’s previous clashes, the knife was light enough for him to not spin around or lose his grip. He ground the blade against Kartana with a growl of increasing volume, determined not to let go. Kartana screamed and squirmed against him, but its tone sounded of triumph. A few seconds later, he felt his back begin to bend as Kartana pushed him down, and if it went on, that blade would slice him in half.

The pink Pokémon let out a confused whine behind him, and he glanced back a little. Both arms were still over its wound, but the other eye was open and wet with tears, fixated on Lucca. That look of desperation was all he needed to see for his instincts to awaken in full force.

Lucca planted his free flipper on the ground while the other tightened its grip on the knife. He snapped his tail on the ground too, and then pushed forward with a ferocious growl. Unbeknownst to him, his form began to grow at the same time. New power came to him, and he grew taller and wider to push himself out of the awkward spot. He grew fangs to grit and ruffles that flowed with the energy he exerted.

“Unbelievable,” Alver whispered. Lucca’s evolution had his eyes gleam with excitement, and the turnabout of the clash had his mouth agape. Not only did Lucca push the Kartana away, he threw himself forward to stab and tear it in two with the knife. Like a sheet of paper, the two halves of the Kartana floated down in lifeless sways in the wind.

“Alver!” Lucca shouted.

“Lucca, you evolved. And you defeated the Kartana!” Alver said.

“Forget that, we need to get them to the healing pool, now!” Lucca said, turning to look for the Pokémon. However, the white foxes were nowhere to be seen. Only the pink Pokémon was there in a shrivelled heap. He could barely hear its shivering breath. “Hold that wound. We will save you!”
 
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Lucca Episode 2: Otherworld Operation

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Lucca complete - Copy.png

Lucca Episode 2: Otherworld Operation



“Here is your tea my lord,” Stufful said. He walked across the throne room with a teacup on his head like it was second nature, not needing to balance the cup at all. The cup actually had water in it.

“And the bow before serving?” Father replied. Stufful bowed to Lucca without hesitation, who accepted the teacup with a proud smile.

“Read the database on Poipole,” Father said.

Stufful shut his eye and began to recite. “Docile Ultra Beasts that reside in curious habitats of ruins throughout Reverie.”

Lucca couldn’t stop smiling. Stufful’s voice was feminine, cute, and despite his age, smooth. That voice brightened his mood whenever he heard it, although that was rare. It wasn’t expected of the Stufful either, who throughout ten years of continued training, had grown to match his height since evolving into a Brionne. Stufful now wore a small bag and a sheath for his knife at his side, and was easily identified by the large tear over his left eye, which he kept closed at all times.

“They do not attack unless agitated, usually emitting a cry to alert others of their kind. If a conflict isn’t resolved quickly, then they flee, keeping to groups as much as they can. We’re yet to decipher their language, but of all the beasts’ dialogue, theirs is the most comprehensible,” Stufful said. He opened his right eye when he was done.

“And you fully understand what that means?” Father said.

“It means they’re the least aggressive Ultra Beast, and they normally run from fights. Because they stay in groups and live with us, we’ve almost been able to translate their language,” Stufful said.

“You suddenly detect an enemy approaching Lucca from behind, sneaking within the shadows. Act!” Father said.

Stufful didn’t say a word as he walked behind Lucca to glance side to side and scout what was there. “On your toes, my lord.”

“I er, don’t have toes,” Lucca giggled.

“I see. Observant, but not making a big deal,” Father muttered, a fin by his mouth. “Well, it took two hours and it was made up on the spot, but it seems that you’ve passed the retainer test. You were right about this Pokémon, Lucca.”

“You mean-” Lucca gasped.

“He is arguably better as a retainer for you than Alver is. He is quiet, observant, obedient, and powerful,” Father said. The two Pokémon standing before him had childishly excited grins. “It seems that his skills as a feral hunter transferred to serving you well. What have you decided to name him?”

“He was called Mimia,” Lucca said slowly. He glanced at Mimia, who took a moment to glance back. Mimia tilted his head. “I don’t think it’s right changing that name. And I like it, anyway.”

“Mimia. Very well then. From this day forth until death, Mimia is now your personal retainer. May he serve you valiantly in your future endeavours,” Father said. He gave them both a pat on the head, and Lucca finally burst from happiness. He stood on his tail, threw his flippers up high and hooted excitedly. “Do not celebrate just yet. You still have much to achieve, my son.”

“Yes Father! I-I mean, yes, Father,” he said. He quickly stood down.

“Now that that inauguration is finished, I can show you what I have been meaning to show you for a long while now. Your reason for having trained so dedicatedly for all these years,” Father said. He slithered his way behind the thrones to the wall, where one of the little waterways stopped. With a light pat on the wall, a symbol appeared that lit up few of the stone blocks to make a doorway.

“Wait, what? How long has that been there?” Lucca said, but Father didn’t reply. He slithered into the corridor beyond, leaving a confused Lucca and Mimia to jog to catch up.

“This area will be underwater for a while. You had best give Mimia an air bubble,” Father said as they came to a ninety-degree dip in the path. The corridor remained perfectly square, but ahead was completely underwater. Lucca shrugged and blew a large blue bubble from his nose, which Mimia easily squeezed his head into.

Like this, Mimia could swim and breathe underwater. He paddled along beside them through the tunnel, but the depth they were going had him breathe conservatively. They must have gone deeper than the castle’s basement, and yet the path still descended for minutes more. The further they went, the redder the walls became, even though the water maintained a sterile clearness.

“You weren’t kidding about needing an air bubble,” Lucca said.

Even when the path changed angle to go forward again, things continued to feel worse. It was hot down here, and silent enough to hear every stroke of water and bubbly breath. Discarded bones lay by the walls and corners, while the stone walls had far more cracks, marks, or stains.

Father’s speed didn’t help matters, either. It felt like he swam at less than half his usual speed, but Lucca and Mimia knew better than to challenge that. What must have been over fifteen minutes later, they finally reached an upward path that had light filtering down. Mimia made a sound of relief as the surface was there too.

“Here,” Father said, and slithered to the side once he surfaced.

“What is this place?” Lucca asked as he popped Mimia’s bubble to help him out of the water. The red and aged stone continued worse than ever, only this room was so wide that other walls couldn’t be seen at all. “Actually, really. What is all this?”

Mimia made another curious noise as the duo wandered forward. A short staircase led down onto a floor where giant, blinding, shiny blue cubes of ice sat in countless rows like dominos. Each and every cube matched perfectly in size and shape, and were taller than a Buzzwole. The frosty air they let out filled the atmosphere with mist, so Mimia kept close.

“Go closer. It is okay to touch,” Father’s voice called from behind.

Lucca wasn’t sure about that, and gulped as he warily approached the nearest ice cube. He lightly laid a flipper on it to test whether it was sticky or not, and then pressed himself against it to try and look in. Inside was unmistakably a body.

“Uwa, what the heck?” He recoiled. Mimia caught him, and then dared to look.

He gritted his fangs and went back to get a better look himself. The body wasn’t dead, and upon closer inspection, it looked more like a Pokémon that was asleep. It wasn’t rigid like it was frozen either, peacefully submerged in liquid within the ice. He couldn’t recognise the species, however.

“That is a water type Pokémon,” Father said slowly. “In each of these cubes rests a Pokémon. This place hosts the entire population of Reverie.”

“The entire population… is that even possible? You mean, every Pokémon in Reverie is here?” Lucca said. He slapped his face upon realising what he’d just said. “Wait a second, back up a thousand words. Pokémon? These are other Pokémon?”

“That is correct. We were never the only Pokémon alive in this world,” Father said. He slithered around a few of the cubes with a solemn gaze, and had to brush his hair out of his face. “To make matters all the more personal, they are your family, Lucca.”

“Family?” Lucca raised his voice.

“We are the Aska, Lucca. A legendary inbred family of Pokémon that stand at the highest point in the entire world. But our world is on the brink of ruin, as you know. Our supply of Bestia energy is nearly exhausted, and should it continue to deplete, this land will become unhabitable,” Father said. He drew his sword and held it high. “In order to conserve Bestia for many more centuries, the Aska family have sealed themselves within these cubes. We are to awaken them should we ever restore Bestia to our world.”

“Is that why you had me train all these years?” he said.

“Precisely. To succeed the Aska family and rescue us from this sorrowful fate. You and your personal retainers, Mimia and Alver, are the sole Pokémon capable of saving all of Reverie. I stalled telling you this to ensure that you and Mimia were ready, and now that you are, we can wait no longer,” Father said. He slithered back up the stairs to address the duo. “You must investigate a legend that will see the restoration of Bestia energy.”

“Bestia energy,” he muttered.

“There is a world above ours known as Heroica. That is where the legend of the Shining Warriors takes place. You must go there and do everything in your power to ensure the warriors succeed in their legend. Save that world, and you will save ours in turn,” Father said. He sheathed his sword aggressively. “Alver has been aware of this task ever since he came of age. He will join you upon departure.”

“Hold on, sorry – you’re really dumping this all on me in a flash,” he said, and hung his head. “Our family, legendary? But they’re sealed in these ice cubes. And the only way to save them is through Heroica, another world. And that’s by banking on a legend?”

“Your doubts are justified, Lucca. However, I assure you: the legend of the Shining Warriors is very real. By all means necessary, you must find and ensure their success. If you do not, both worlds are liable for destruction. Bestia is an energy that we need not only to perform our abilities as Pokémon, but to cultivate nature as well. And you have seen Reverie for yourself. Nature does not exist here!” Father said, and swiped an arm aside. “Think. Mimia and those other feral hunters came into this world once before. They came from Heroica! The other world exists, and you must go there.”

“This is one of the most confusing things you’ve ever asked me to do.” Lucca shook his head. He looked over the frozen Pokémon and sighed. “But to think that Reverie had an entire population all this time, and all of them are just waiting for me to become a hero… what if I fail? What if something doesn’t work?”

“Then the task will fall onto your children,” Father said.

“My children? Wait, huh?” he gasped.

“At the very least, you are still my son. And I would like this to be a journey for you. With us and the Ultra Beasts being the only Pokémon alive in Reverie, we have many a century before Reverie reaches the point of no return. So when you get to Heroica, I want you to live. Live and enjoy what the world can be. You are a prince after all, so finding love and a successor has always been a duty,” Father said. Mimia moaned a little and turned to Lucca.

“I er, yeah. That’s a rare word I’ve never learnt the meaning of. What in the world is love?” Lucca asked, scratching his head. Mimia sighed.

“When you experience it, you will know for certain. For now, focus on the task at hand: reaching Heroica and investigating the legend of the Shining Warriors,” Father said. “There is one place in all of Reverie where the worlds cross. It is the tallest mountain, and the only one that reaches beyond the cloud barrier that keeps our world in darkness.”

“Oh, I know this one. End Mountain, right?” Lucca nodded.

“Precisely. Climb to the peak, and you should be able to reach Heroica. It will not be easy, but with your strength and your retainers, I know that all of you can do it,” Father said.

“Why don’t you come with us? I’m sure that’d make things even easier.” He hung his head.

“Me? I am much too old to be climbing mountains and fighting beasts, Lucca! Besides, you are an adult now. The last thing you want is an old sea dog like me watching over your adventure,” Father said. He finally smiled. “If you are worried, don’t be. Believe in your weapons.”

Lucca looked over his shoulder at the two blades strapped to his back. He had two short swords that were neatly hidden below his ruffles. “If you say so.”

“There is one other thing I need to warn you about Heroica,” Father said. His stern face made them sit still. “Heroica is a world much like Reverie should be, with many different Pokémon that each have their own beliefs and behaviour. On your journey, you will meet more Pokémon than you will be able to remember.”

“You’re making me excited,” he said with a snicker.

“Not all of these Pokémon will be on your side, Lucca. And they will not be like the feral Ultra Beasts. They might be feral, but they could also be intelligent Pokémon much like myself. Intelligent Pokémon who wish to see the worlds fall to destruction,” Father said.

“Whoa. So you’re saying I should watch out,” he said.

“These Pokémon will openly use the Bestia of the world without care. You must remember that your mission is to ensure the success of the Shining Warriors at all costs. That includes killing Pokémon like that, if you must,” Father said.

The mere mention of the word ‘killing’ made his chest heavy. “I-I only have to do it if I absolutely have to, right? Like, only if there’s no other way to stop those Pokémon from being bad.”

“It is your life, your duty, and your judgement. You don’t have to go around stabbing every Pokémon you see using an attack. But if you should ever meet a Pokémon that threatens our plans, it falls to your duty to stop them at all costs,” Father said. “Now be on your way, Lucca! Your adventure awaits. Go and climb End Mountain and find the Shining Warriors!”

“For the sake of Reverie, and all these Pokémon. Uh, yes sir!” Lucca saluted. He nodded at Mimia, and then they were on their way.

Father watched them until he was sure they were deep in the tunnel again, and sighed deeply as he turned to look out over the frozen Pokémon. He brushed his hair out of his face and sat there for a while, just staring out at the distance. “Lucca didn’t quite end up the way I anticipated, but it won’t do me to be hasty.”

Silence responded, and he sighed again. “But I know more than anyone that life moves in unexpected ways. This time, the Aska will succeed.”







Alver met Lucca and Mimia back at the entrance with folded arms and a cocky smile, ignorant of Mimia’s irritation to being wet. “I’m guessing His Highness told you everything finally, huh?”

“Alver, there you are. I was worried I was going to have to look for you,” Lucca said. Mimia started shaking himself off, to which he laughed.

“Tch, do you have to do that here? You’re indoors!” Alver complained. “That means stop you pink plushie! The heat outside will cool you off anyway.”

Mimia whined, and Lucca kept laughing. “It’s not funny, Your Highness! Please. Oh forget it. Let’s just be on our way.”

“That’s the plan!” Lucca cheered. He leapt ahead and slapped the double doors open, only to stop and glare out over the world. “Is this going to be the last day I see Reverie?”

“At least for some time. It isn’t easy to go between here and Heroica,” Alver said.

All that red wasteland and cloudy sky seemed to be extra deadly, today. Their destination was directly in front of them, even visible from this distance, but a good half a day’s march away. A jagged mountain faded by sooty mist whose peak was hidden by the clouds. Lucca squinted at it, gulped, and then calmed himself with a long, heavy breath.

“Let’s go,” he said. His allies nodded, and they were off.

Between the castle and the mountain was a fair amount of variety. Valleys, hills, and even a gorge with a river of lava running through it, all of it made of sharp, dirty rock. He had been in some of these places before, but never with the sole purpose of simply getting through. The group were quiet until about an hour into their trip, where they were in the middle of one such valley.

“You know, I never would’ve guessed that Heroica was real, let alone had an entrance right in front of me the whole time,” Lucca said. The massive mountains had created a maze all around them, so he kept glancing at the sky to use the view of End Mountain as a compass.

“Not like anyone would want to come here. Besides, did His Highness tell you about the monster that guards that place?” Alver said, a sly smile on his face. Mimia made an interested noise.

“Monster? C’mon, you’re pulling my tailfins. Something dangerous?” Lucca said.

“Oh yes. The most powerful Ultra Beast lives there. It’s a great big monster that eats anything and everything, including unwary travellers that stumble down here,” Alver said, an arm raised.

“Okay yeah, you’re definitely trying to tease me or something. Like I’d be afraid of an old tale like that,” Lucca said with a half lidded look. Mimia hung his head with a whine, and shivered. “Aww buddy, you’re not saying you believe it, are you?”

Mimia answered with a few growls and noises. He sounded like any dog Pokémon, only his feminine tone was music to Lucca. Alver looked perplexed by it though, especially when Lucca set off giggling from it all.

“If you needed to go, you should’ve said something earlier, silly! We’ll wait for you,” he said, a flipper by his mouth. Mimia whined and hurried off, disappearing around a corner. As he did, the eyes and shuffles of Poipole appeared around them as blue glows in the darkest corners.

“You mean to tell me you… understood what he was saying?” Alver cocked his head.

“Yeah! It’s feral language. It’s what him and all the Pokémon that live in the wild speak in Heroica, apparently.” He nodded. “You can understand the Ultra Beasts though, right? I mean you spent all that time studying them.”

“Well yes, but their language is completely different to that of your friend. Or Pokémon, for that matter,” Alver said. He grumbled something. “Don’t you find it odd or unsettling, though? I thought Mimia to be the silent type, and that you figured out his wants through body language. He never ever responds to anything I say or do. And now I see he talks to you through those… noises. But I know he can talk. Rather fluently for someone who was feral, too. Don’t you find that rather suspicious?”

“Suspicious?” Lucca said.

“Yes. He evaded the monster on the mountain, only ever talks to you and His Highness, and is frighteningly strong as well. Why, he could’ve plotted something dramatic and we wouldn’t even know it,” Alver said. “That’s it! Your Highness, I demand you interpret his dialogue from here on. I must know what—”

“Woof!”

“Wha! What is, how the—” Alver shot right into Lucca’s face. He spun and pulled his staff out at the same time, but found himself pointed at Mimia. The Stufful wasn’t bothered at all though, and casually walked beside Lucca. “How did you- but you went that way- why did you even—”

“Hahaha, oh Alver. You worry too much,” Lucca said, and walked off.

Alver watched them with his mouth on the floor until Mimia yipped at him, and he flinched again. “W-why are you still here? Go then! Stay at the young master’s side, you, you diabolical fluff ball!”

“Okay okay, that’s enough teasing,” Lucca giggled as Mimia caught up. “But about that monster you mentioned, I doubt it’s really there.”

“Are you really going to question me? Right after praising my knowledge of the Ultra Beasts? I only pray that we don’t run into it somehow,” Alver said.

“I just find it really tough to believe in fairy tales and stuff anymore. I know, it’s rich coming from someone who places all his beliefs on Mimia,” he said. Mimia whined in interest. “I nearly gave up on my training, but then you showed up, Mimia. I still don’t know if this Heroica place is real or not, and to be honest, I have heavy doubts on that whole Shining Warrior story. But somehow, in a world with no Pokémon, you still showed up. When I think about that, it just kept me going. That maybe I’d get to go on an adventure like this.”

Mimia whined pleasantly and nuzzled him a bit.

“Aww. Where would I be without you, anyway? If fate exists, it has funny ways of acting,” Lucca said, nuzzling back.

“I am curious as to whether you know it, Sir Mimia. You did not run into any monsters when you first came here, did you?” Alver said. Mimia ignored him completely, and he growled.

“You asked this before. Mimia doesn’t remember. I mean, he nearly died back then, so I don’t blame him,” Lucca said.

“Grr, fine. Be that way. But look alive, we’re about to climb.” Alver pointed.

They all had to come to a stop. Reverie took a complete transformation here, even though it was the same features they had seen up until this point. End Mountain’s entrance sat before them, a gaping maw in the side of an intimidatingly tall mountain. The low grumble of lava echoed up into the sky around the area, coupled with a heavy storm of blue embers in the air. Just like Castle Reverie, there was a natural moat over a deep river of lava. That blue hue was all the light this mountain had from below, until the red glow of light that peeked through the clouds lit the top. The rays of light came through lightning bolt shaped cracks in the clouds.

From blue, to complete darkness, to a frightening red, this mountain went. And all of it was made of an unnaturally smooth rock. Unlike everywhere else in Reverie, this place almost looked like it had been sculpted and somehow retained all the finesse granted by the sculptor. There weren’t even any cracks inside the mountain caves.

“These markings,” Lucca muttered, immediately drawn to the walls inside. Mimia was curious enough to walk right up to them and put a paw on it, but there was no reaction.

“Don’t expect me to decipher. We haven’t been able to,” Alver said.

“Why isn’t this your priority? There’s writing everywhere. Even on the stai- there’s stairs?” Lucca said.

“It isn’t a priority because we can’t read it, Your Highness. It’s no use trying to decipher text we have no way of understanding,” Alver said. “There are no signs of the monster yet. We shouldn’t linger.”

“But… the stairs. Isn’t there a better way to do this?” he groaned. “I know! Why don’t you use your staff like a broomstick and carry us?”

“March, Your Highness.”

“But… but stairs,” he whined. Alver shoved him. “Aw fine. I hate stairs.”

Mimia watched him drag himself up the first few stone steps. With Lucca’s way of ‘walking’, it was only a matter of time before he tore his skin by scraping his tail or something. With a yip and a peppy bark, Mimia shoved his way beneath Lucca and hoisted him onto his back.

“M-Mimia?” Lucca said slowly. His friend yipped happily and began to gallop up the steps with ease. He couldn’t help but blush a bit, and wrapped his flippers around Mimia’s waist to hold on.

Alver sighed and shook his head. “Hmm. Well, I guess he doesn’t know what it’s like to be spoiled.”

“It’s so hot in here, still. If you get tired, you don’t have to carry me. I can walk,” Lucca said. Mimia responded with a happy yip as they reached a second floor of sorts, a long, winding cave lit by the occasional wall lamp. “There’s even writing here, too. And is it just me or does it seem more… aggressive than the text downstairs?”

Alver squinted. “An astute observation Your Highness, but a meaningless one at that. Like I said, we can’t read it, so there’s little point in investigating.”

“Can’t I be interested? It’s here for a reason, after all,” he said. Mimia yipped and continued onward.

The cave retained this linear pattern all the way through. There would be stairs at the end of a corridor or a hallway, but every single wall and ceiling had detailed text marked or drawn onto it. The higher they went, the bigger, sharper, and darker coloured this text became, all until it could be described as angry scribbles on the walls.

Hours this carried on for. Hours of unnerving exploration up this mysterious mountain. Lucca had gone quiet to speculate what all of this meant, while Mimia proved to have no difficulty carrying him the whole time. The temperature dropped as the embers disappeared from the air, too.

They eventually made it to a staircase that took them to the outside of the mountain, where they were just below the cloud barrier. The chaotic lands of Reverie were emphasized from this height, as the lava rivers looked like veins of blue made out of fissures in the planet. Every pit, canyon, and spiky mountain of the endlessly dry regions stretched as far as they eye could see, where they vanished into the misty distance.

“Whoa. Okay, I had no idea we were so high up,” Lucca gasped as he climbed off Mimia to run right to the edge. Mimia made an equally impressed noise.

“Be careful, Your Highness. Wouldn’t want you to fall from this height,” Alver said.

“Even Castle Reverie is tiny from here. Yet there’s still more to go,” he said. He slowly faced the clouds above, which obscured the peak of the mountain in a frightfully chilly, blood red hue. “I’m getting hungry. Hopefully this is over soon.”

“There isn’t much further to go. Please try to remember that I’ve been here before,” Alver said.

Another set of stairs, and these were much longer than the steps up until now. But these led to a massive hallway lined with gold murals and more text with each bit sectioned off. Lucca gasped and got off Mimia again.

“Your Highness, please,” Alver groaned.

“Wait, I want to see this!” he said as he examined each section. “It’s what I think this is. All of these are written in different languages. And that means…”

“That means something?” Alver said. Mimia started barking.

“Yes, you’re right. It’s footprint runes. Quick, what does it say?” Lucca said. Mimia paused to read it.

“Death… doom… destruction… death… doom… destruction…” Mimia said, and then made a confused sound. He started talking to Lucca through his usual growls and noises again.

“Wait a second, you can read footprint runes?” Alver gasped and bolted over.

“Of course he can, he’s from Heroica, right? But either way, it seems that’s all that’s written here. If you look at the other walls, even they have repeat letters,” Lucca said. He cocked his head and folded his flippers. “Death, doom, destruction, written over and over, in seemingly every conceivable language. If the text here is related to what we’ve seen so far, then…”

“Then tales of that monster aren’t too far off, are they, Your Highness?” Alver smiled.

“If it is related to that, then you made it sound way less intimidating,” he said. “Are we supposed to be here, then? It’s obvious that there’s something on this mountain that’s highly dangerous.”

“This is the only way to Heroica, Your Highness. Whatever that danger is, we must face it,” Alver said.

“… That’s a good point,” he said. His heart was heavy again. “Okay. Let’s do this.”

The next staircase was suitably more extravagant than the stairs that led up to this point. They were clear and frosty, like a perfectly shaped ice cube without the slipperiness. And at their peak, they opened out into an altar.

Lucca’s blood turned cold. This area was wide and open, but just above the clouds and nothing like he could ever have imagined. The ancient altar in the middle was among his expectations given the old text everywhere. Large stone arches surrounded the altar in a perfect circle, while a pillar of light bathed a colourful platform in the direct centre.

But it was the massive creature in the back of the area that chilled him so. A colossal monster was right at the back of the area, a round, black monster with a heavy tail that looked like a mace.

“If we’re quiet, we can perhaps sneak by it,” Alver whispered. “The thing we need is that light in the centre. That is a Teleportal.”

“Oh, I know how to use those. Well, I’ve read how to use them. Using that will send us to Heroica?” Lucca said. Alver nodded.

The group shuffled slowly and carefully, and as they got closer, the noises of the area seemed to get louder. There was a constant howl of wind that was as frigid as it sounded, while incessant chomps of crumbling rock echoed from the monster. But when they reached the platform of the altar, the true surprise took over.

Faces appeared on the giant stone arches around them, and from those, they sung a heavenly choir in perfect sync. The song brought the monster to a stop, and it turned around. Lucca and the group stopped dead.

If the jagged lands of Reverie were a Pokémon, then this monster was it. A massive, round, draconic monster littered with sharp scales anywhere there could possibly be. Its mouth took up most of its front, where two arm-like tongues with maw-like pincers hung loosely outside. As such, its mouth was constantly open, and inside was a black tongue lined with spikes that constantly undulated.

Above that mouth were two eyes that glowed like the Poipole - luminous turquoise that glowed extra bright due to the black scales around them. But above that was another face, a jagged head between two massive horns with its own set of glowing eyes. The monster let out a grating roar as it stomped over to them.

“Great, how was I supposed to know the rocks could sing?” Lucca said. He stood on his tail and unsheathed his swords from his back. Mimia and Alver drew their weapons, too.

“This did not happen last time. I had no idea that those arches were Stonjourner,” Alver said.

“Stonjourner? Is that some kind of Pokémon?” Lucca said. He shifted back with the group as the monster stomped closer. Mimia made an interested sound, too.

“Not the time, you two. We need to focus to stand a chance against this thing!” Alver said. “Listen. We need to try and distract it so that was can use the Teleportal. If we can draw it over to the cliff, we might be able to trip it up.”

“And if we fall down instead?” Lucca glanced behind him. They were running out of room to back up.

“We’ll work on that if it comes to that,” Alver said, and then shot forward.

“Alver!” Lucca cried.

His worry was unfounded. The Ribombee flew nimbly around the monster like the insect he was, and dodged every single attempt to eat him. Mimia took Lucca’s attention with a bark, and carried him to the monster’s side.

The ground quaked hard thanks to the monster’s stomps, but Mimia managed to stay on his feet. Its tongues smashed the ground and bit the air to try and catch Alver, while its tail crashed and grinded against the ground with force enough to leave ditches.

“We’re behind it. Now Mimia, grab its tail,” Lucca said. Mimia responded with a screech and a bark. “You’re super strong, though. You can’t even pull that guy?”

Mimia growled instead, so Lucca got off him. “Fine, we’ll try stabbing them instead.”

Lucca tensed up and held his swords tight. Even though he was several metres away, he could feel gushes of wind from each swerve of the monster’s tail. Dust and chips of rock filled the air every time the tail hit the ground, and its movements were so erratic that it almost seemed like he would never get the chance to attack. So with a nervous breathe and a squint of focus, he threw himself into an attack.

Lucca sprinted as fast as his flippers would allow him, and got close enough for the tip of the monster’s tail to strike him. He ducked below a swipe of that tail, then leapt over it as it came back, lost in a cloud of dust as he landed. But he knew he was close enough to hit. With gritted fangs and all of his flippers planted for a moment, he leapt with both swords pointed forward. Despite all of his effort, his blades bounced right off the monster’s skin without so much as a scratch.

“What the?” he coughed as he was totally thrown off-balance. He fell right below one of the monster’s feet which threatened to stomp him, and rolled away with a cry and a swipe of one of his swords. It once again bounced off harmlessly, leaving him vulnerable to another attack.

Mimia was there to help, thankfully. The monster’s tail swiped across the ground again, and Mimia tackled it to try and pin it in place. He cried out upon impact however, and barely slowed the tail enough for Lucca to get up and dive away.

“Mimia, Alver!” Lucca cried. The two Pokémon ran back to his side, both of them covered in dirt and marks. “That didn’t work out at all. My swords can’t pierce it!”

Alver growled while the monster turned to face them. “I hate to say this, but we may have to retreat. We cannot hope to touch that thing as we are now,” Alver said. The monster roared at them again. “Perhaps if we had a weapon that could distract or at least harm it…”

“We can’t give up, not after coming this far. There has to be something,” Lucca said. He scanned all around for something, anything that he could substitute as a means to distract the monster. The only thing that caught his eye was a large ball of flames high in the sky. He stared as he shifted back, and quickly concluded that whatever it was, it was headed towards them and fast.

Mimia was the one to bark in warning before the fireball crashed directly between the two parties. Lucca and Mimia shielded their faces as light blinded them from the crash, while the monster roared and staggered back. Alver seemed to be taken completely by surprise, too.

“What?” Lucca whispered as the light began to die down. The ground between them was untouched, but there was a large Pokémon where he expected to see a meteorite. A round white Pokémon with large wings, three tufts on its head, and an adorable face. Its body was adorned with red and blue triangles.

“Looks like I arrived just in time. Shining Warriors, your angel is here!” the Pokémon cheered and raised its wings as the glow died down completely. Silence fell, and everyone stared at her. “U-um, you don’t have to look at me that way.”

“I have no idea what’s going on, but watch out! That monster behind you,” Lucca said. He leapt forward to pull the Pokémon back, but the monster swung one of its tongues down at him. It missed, but it hit the ground so hard that chunks of mountain flew up and knocked him back. Lucca gave a winded cough as rock punched his chest and stomach.

“Lucca!” Alver rushed to his aid. “What was that? That was a rookie move for you.”

“B-but, that Pokémon,” he growled as he forced himself up. The white Pokémon was unharmed and flew to his side.

“Don’t worry about me, but what gives? Why is there only two of you?” the Pokémon said. Her voice was unexpectedly adult. Mimia barked at her. “Wait a minute… this isn’t right…”

“What isn’t right? What’s going on, who are you?” Lucca growled as he got up. The monster eyed them in silence.

“Okay, short story of it. The name’s Angel, and I’m here because the Shining Warriors have awakened,” Angel said. The group stared back at the monster. “Normal Pokémon can’t see or hear me, so only you and your Stufful friend can talk.”

“It’s like I’m talking to myself, huh?” he said.

“For some reason, the Shining Warriors are separated right now. They shouldn’t be, so that puts us in a pickle,” Angel said. The monster finally took a step towards them, and they all shifted back.

“Nothing you can do to miraculously get us out of this, huh?” he growled.

“Huh? Oh yeah sure I can handle that. Or you can, anyway. I’m gonna give you guys a boost of Bestia. But you’ve only got one Pokémon attack, ya’hear?” Angel said.

“Wait a minute, what? You can give us Bestia?” Lucca flinched.

“Has that attack made you delirious, Lucca? Who are you talking to?” Alver shouted. Mimia barked and growled at him.

“Yeah, but you’ve got one attack. Aim it at Guzzlord’s head, ‘kay? Then when it’s stunned, go and stand on that pedestal. I’ll handle the rest. Got it?” she said.

Mimia immediately began barking orders, and Lucca gasped. “Are you sure, buddy?”

“Seriously, what are you two doing?” Alver said, but Mimia spoke over him.

“Okay, we’ll go with Bubble Beam. Bear in mind I’ve never actually used that before, so pardon me if I get it wrong,” Lucca said, and sheathed his swords.

“Your Highness?” Alver said.

“Just get ready to make a break for the Teleportal. Mimia, I’m counting on you,” he said. Mimia nodded.

They dashed forward together this time, Angel close behind them. Guzzlord roared as it raised both its tongues to smash down, but before it did, Lucca dove onto Mimia, who stood on his hind legs to catch him with his front legs. With their flippers and forepaws linked, Mimia spun around to throw Lucca high up, and all with enough time to stumble away from Guzzlord’s attack.

Angel followed Lucca closely and stretched her wings out once he was in the air. For a brief moment, she turned into a blue flame and sunk into Lucca. At that moment, instincts sparked up within him. He had never used a Pokémon attack before, yet he knew exactly how to use what he intended to use.

He took a deep, exaggerated breath to the point that his cheeks bulged, then pointed his whole body directly at Guzzlord’s second face, the eyes between its large horns. He exhaled hard through his nose, and out came a hissing torrent of bubbles that blasted Guzzlord right in the eyes. It wasn’t enough to knock it over, but it did cause the monster to grumble, flail its tongues about, and cringe to resist them. Foam formed over the Pokémon’s face, and it stumbled on the spot.

“Bubble Beam?” Alver’s mouth hit the floor. Mimia barked at him wildly, and he shook himself to focus. “Right. I don’t need to interpret that.”

Lucca’s attack continued for nearly half a minute and ended with a burst of blue smoke and foam that lingered all over Guzzlord’s face. That blast caused it to fall on its backside, all the time crying and flailing its tongues to try and remove the foam.

“That went well,” he said as he landed on his tail. He kept a boastful smile as he rushed over to the others on the pedestal. “Okay Angel. Do your thing!”

She popped out of him in a flash with her wings crossed, and unfurled them to her sides to trigger her magic. The circular pattern below them bathed the group in a cylinder of light, which whisked them away. Moments later, Guzzlord stood back up to search for them, and caught the light as it vanished. It snapped the mouths of its tongues together and began to throw a tantrum, all with a roar so loud that it shook the sky of Reverie.







Lucca kept his eyes closed until the light faded, so he never expected to be dumped on solid ground when they arrived. He heard the others grunt and growl too, so they weren’t much better. With a rub of his side and a stretch of his flippers, he got up to assess where he was, and had to rub his eyes to make sure he wasn’t seeing things.

Green. Green all around as far as he could see. Tall trees that overflowed with leaves on their tops, vivid grass all over the ground, and all of it had its colour brought to life by the heated sun. It was a pleasant heat unlike the stagnant air of Reverie, further complimented by a quiet blue sky.

“Huh?” he whispered.

He put a flipper by his eye as a cool breeze rustled the woodland. There was evidence of ruins close to him, but all of it was old and weathered beyond recognition. Short, broken pillars covered in moss and other odd rocky shapes were here and there, including the little platform he was stood on. He dozily walked off it, but flinched when Angel collapsed beside him.

“Grr darn. Okay yeah, Angel, gonna have to avoid doin’ that again until everyone’s back together,” she said with a dozy gurgle.

“A-are you okay?” he said. He motioned to help her up, but his flippers went right through her as if she wasn’t there.

“Don’t bother. I won’t die, so I can pick myself up,” she said. It still took her a long groan to do that.

“It appears we’ve made it. And at no greater a time as well. The day is healthy,” Alver said. “Please excuse me for taking a little bit of a break. All that dust has stiffened my wings.”

“We made it… you mean,” Lucca said. He scanned the area again. Mimia made a curious sound with him. “Is this Heroica?”

“Welcome. To the land, the world of Pokémon where Bestia still exists,” Alver said. “We must get through this forest, but it is a quiet one. We should not run into any trouble we cannot handle.”

Mimia barked and galloped ahead a few paces. Lucca was still in disbelief, but when he heard Mimia’s happy howls, he smiled. “You’re home, buddy. Ten years away… It must feel really good to be back.”

Mimia returned and yipped happily. His tail wagged the whole time.

“Okay, so what gives? Why were you guys in Reverie of all places?” Angel pointed a wing at them.

“Shall we be on our way, then? We should make a point to get a roof over our heads before night falls,” Alver said.

“Night? Er, A-Alver, wait a minute,” Lucca said. “I don’t understand, Angel.”

“I don’t understand either!” she said, wings on her hips. “’Kay, here’s the long-ish story. I’m like, the guide of the Shining Warriors, yeah? I get to wake up when the Shining Warriors are born. I take them to these six fountains where they do these special prayers to bring back Bestia.”

“It really is the legend, just like Father said. And in the books,” he muttered.

“The thing is, I’m supposed to wake up when all six warriors arrive at their first fountain. So what the heck gives? Why is it only you two, and why are you miles away from any fountain? What’d you do with the other warriors?” Angel cried. Mimia barked at her. “Yes, it’s you two! Little doggo-wannabe and the cool blue dude. Big bad bug there can’t see me.”

“If it wasn’t for the ghostly stuff before, I don’t think I’d believe that you were a legendary right now.” Lucca tilted his head with a cheeky smile. “But I’m honestly just as confused as you are. All of this is happening so fast. Am I really one of the Shining Warriors?”

“The amulet around your neck says it! C’mon, wake up already,” Angel said. The duo exchanged glances, gasped, and pointed at the necklaces they suddenly now wore. Plain necklaces with a hexagonal jewel on the end. “Those necklaces are proof of your heroic status. You can’t lose ‘em even if you wanted to.”

“So I really am one of the warriors, Mimia too. This is incredible! And kinda the best,” Lucca cheered and jumped high. “Alver, isn’t this awesome?”

“If I am following correctly, you are communicating with the guide of legend, aren’t you? This certainly makes things more convenient,” he said. He folded his arms. “Rather than finding and helping out the Shining Warriors, now that you are one yourself, you can ensure their success by your own paws.”

“But there are six of them, and only two of you here! Argh!” Angel shouted. She pulled at the tufts on her head and stomped around. “Alright Angel, get it together. The warriors are born again, and this time they’re a bunch of clueless dolts in the middle of nowhere. You just hafta put in a little bit of legwork this time.”

“That does seem like the way to go.” Lucca nodded. Angel turned back to him. “We find the other warriors first, then go to those fountains. N-not that I know what a fountain is.”

“Well, then you’re stupid,” she said.

“Ouch.”

“Look, it’s probably easier if I go find everyone first and tell them where to meet. Yeah, that seems like a mighty better plan,” she said. “You got a map?”

“This is my first time seeing the colour green, put it that way. At least outside of books,” he said. She roared into the air again.

“I’m working with a frickin’ hobo! Okay how’s the best way to do this?” she said. “… Go explore. Look around, learn something about the world for once. You’re lookin’ for a place called Fossil Hill.”

“Fossil Hill. Noted.” He nodded.

“There’s a Bestia Fountain there. Can’t tell you exactly where it is, but fate and legend will probably make you show up there eventually. Just don’t give up searching for it, ‘kay?” she said. She spun and vanished into a small blue wisp. “And don’t go all tourist on me either! You get there as soon as you can if you’re serious about this legend, ya’hear?”

“I-I may not know my way around, but it’s a promise. Fossil Hill Bestia Fountain, I’ll be there!” he said. She disappeared after that, and silence fell. “Aww man, what am I getting myself into this time?”

“It seems you have a lot of work to do, Your Highness,” Alver said. Lucca nodded.

“It sounds like the legend isn’t going exactly as it should. I hope this still goes well,” he said.
 
Last edited:

Negrek

Only the Lonely
Staff
Hey there, here for my Catnip review! Since there are only two chapters so far, I figured I'd look at everything you've published here so far. Based on the content warnings at the beginning, I was expecting this to be a somewhat darker, sort of apocalyptic fantasy story, but so far it's been fairly light-hearted! Despite the fact that, uh, it takes place in an apocalyptic wasteland and involves multiple near-death experiences. Lucca's been taking things in stride so far! I'm curious to see what the other heroes will be like--whether they'll be the upbeat sort like him, or whether some will have a more grim outlook on their situation. I'm also sort of wondering whether this will be a multi-POV story... if it is, it seems like the next chapter could easily be where we'd meet our next POV character!

I've quite liked the setting here so far. We haven't seen much of Heroica yet, of course, but Reverie makes a cool world in decline. I like the image of the huge empty castle, with multiple thrones, and absolutely no one to rule over. The crumbling stonework of the village, the blasted remains of forest, and also the blue lava in the lands around the castle... I thought it was wonderfully atmospheric, and definitely set the fantasy tone. And apparently I'm a huge sucker for blue lava! For the first part of the story I was wondering how on earth the popplio line ends up becoming rulers in an actual volcanic wasteland... Obviously it wasn't always a wasteland, heh, and I guess a lot of Alola is volcanic as well! Based on what we've seen of the world so far, I'm very curious to see what sorts of places we'll visit in Heroica. I imagine there'll be some cool set pieces.

It'll also be great to follow Lucca's journey. He's got a bit of a bratty teenager thing going on, despite the harshness of his upbringing, but I doubt he's going to be able to keep that up in the quest he's on! I'm also really curious what role Alver's going to play here long-term... the guy's got it rough, seeing as he can only understand (and in one case even see) one member of the party. It'll be fun to meet up with the rest of the heroes and get to know them, but I expect we'll get at least a little more with just the three of them, which is great. They haven't been able to spend much time at all as a team yet, so some time spent on them alone will be nice to get a firmer sense of their dynamic. And seeing how Alvaren and Lucca react to a world so different from their own!

I was a bit unclear on Lucca's relationship with his father. In the first chapter, they seem rather antagonistic towards one another--Lucca snarking at his dad, who insists on formatlity and then demands that he go out and deal with the kartana before he'll get any food. Their relationship honestly feels a bit hostile. But in the second chapter, Lucca seems to have a much more positive attitude towards his father, even asking if he'll come with them on their quest. And, likewise, his dad expresses more positive feelings towards Lucca in the second chapter, saying how he knows he can do this, etc. But then he also fails to warn Lucca about the massive guzzlord known to hang out in the place he's sending Lucca off to, soooooo... Not sure if he's actually treating Lucca that much better after all. In the end I wasn't sure what to make of the dynamic between those two.

I also wasn't really clear on why Leo (or anyone) had to conceal so much from Lucca until he came of age. From a meta perspective, I think it would have been more enjoyable to me if Lucca'd already known at the start of the story what he was preparing for. Having an uninformed protagonist who learns about things at the same time as the readers can be a handy way of sneaking worldbuilding info across, but I found the way Lucca's understanding of his situation was presented to be confusing--more about that in the line-by-line section below. In general, there was a fair amount of information presented in this chapter where it felt like Lucca should have already known it, and it was strange that he was somehow only asking questions now. An example mentioned below was his confusion over why he couldn't use a Bubble attack. It seems really weird that he hadn't complained about that and gotten shot down at some point much earlier in his life, whereas if you'd thrown in a sentence or two while he was fighting Kartana, like, "If only he could trap the beast inside a Bubble! But without any Bestia energy, he'd just have to try his luck with his sword." In general, I think things would have read more naturally to me if Lucca was already familiar with most of the revelations we get in these first couple chapters.

And, again, I just didn't understand why so much was being kept from Lucca! (Perhaps you explained, but I missed it?) Maybe Leo was afraid that the sense of responsibility would be crushing or overwhelming? I guess he mentioned being a hero at various points, but not a hero of what or what that meant? If anything, I'd expect being told that you were going to travel to a magical fantasy world and save your family would be pretty motivating, even though it might make you pretty anxious! I think there are ways you could make the secrecy thing work, but like I said, it probably would have been more enjoyable if Lucca knew what was up anyway. If you think it's an important element to keep, though, I think it might be a good idea to emphasize Leo's reasons more strongly. They don't have to be good reasons, and Lucca's reaction to that could be fun! But as it was I didn't get a clear sense of what they were.

Zooming in a bit on smaller chunks of prose:

Tall mountains to his sides shielded him from view, but if he went any further, he knew predators wouldn’t hesitate to strike.
This was a bit hard for me to picture... unless the predator was super far away, to the point that it wasn't even on the same side of the mountain, or absolutely huge, it doesn't seem like the mountains would be helping Lucca out much here.

He shut right up and his heart began to race, but focused.
I'm assuming Lucca's the one focusing here, but the "focused" at the end doesn't actually point to him. If that's what you were getting at, something like "his heart began to race, but he forced himself to focus" would make it more clear.

He needed to stay ready, or at least get out of here.
These clauses feel like they want to swap places to me. "Get out of here" is harder to do than "stay ready," so staying ready is what Lucca would want to do "at least."

With a shout and a cry, he spun to build momentum and swing his sword high up, and just about managed to clash blades with the Kartana.
You want "swung" rather than "swing." Saying he "just about managed" to clash blades implies that he didn't actually manage to clash blades with the kartana. "Just barely managed" or similar would convey that he managed to catch its strike, but that it was a close thing.

Despite the searing pain that coursed through him, he didn’t expect to see so much blood seep out from under his grip. It was like he stepped in a puddle, only it was pure red, hurt worse than anything he’d ever felt, and he could even smell its putrid stench.
These sentences want to be in past perfect tense: they refer to something that had previously happened, and are therefore farther back in time than the present, which is already in past tense. That means it should be "he hadn't expected to see so much blood," and "it was like he'd stepped." You already got it right with "anything he'd ever felt!" I also don't think blood smells "putrid" (or has much of a "stench") unless maybe you have a serious medical condition.

His breaths grew frantic as his view blurred to all but the Kartana, who raised its blades to finish him off for sure.
Hmm, I think you mean that his vision blurred except for the Kartana.

“Krakeeek! Kartana screeched as it swooped back for more.
Missing a closing quote, there.

Father’s eyes thinned.
"Thinned" sounds odd for eyes. Perhaps "narrowed?"

“Wait, so you’re saying I can use bubbles? I can blow useless bubbles, but I can’t use the actual move Bubble? That doesn’t even make any sense! This blows,” he said. His stomach growled and he slumped over. “Either way, this isn’t getting done. I’m dizzy from hunger back here.”
This is one of those things that it feels odd to see the characters discuss like it's never come up before. How has Lucca not realized he can't use Bubble before? He's been training a while, right?

This also made me wonder why Lucca was acting to weirded out about being asked to use a sword. Later on in the story it comes out that that sword, specifically, is too heavy and unwieldy for him, but right here I was wondering if there was another weapon that he would consider it reasonabe for a popplio to train with. Because the act of using a weapon doesn't seem like an outrageous thing in and of itself in this world... the only alternative, if Lucca needed to fight, would basically be slapping someone with his fins, right?

The world outside the castle was as gloomy as he felt now, and not much different to the wasteland he’d perished in earlier.
I hope he didn't actually perish (i.e. die) out there!

“Why am doing all this, Alver?”

“I believe only you can answer that, Your Highness. Do you not want to?” Alver replied.

“Of course not. I’d way rather sit in the castle and read more. Instead I’m out here trying to get stronger to fight… or something like that. I don’t know why I’m training and stuff. Dad – I mean Father – mentioned something about a hero, but I haven’t the slightest clue what he’s on about,” he said.
At this point I was starting to get confused about what was going on. This reads to me as though Lucca has literal memory problems--he's acting as though he can't remember why he's been training for years, not that he's only now questioning that arrangement.

“Maybe you can. Why can’t you tell me?” Lucca said, half-lidded.
What's half-lidded here?

“Because it was fun. And I used to think that you two were super smart because you were here before me, so I did everything you told me to do without question. But none of this makes any sense anymore. I’m suffering, and it doesn’t look like you’re enjoying that,” he said.
At this point I was really confused. Lucca's phrasing, "you were here before me," makes it sound like he arrived from somewhere else, not like he was born (hatched?) here and is literally Leo's son. The way he's been questioning everything he's been doing was still suggesting to me that there was something really strange going on here--again, maybe some kind of amnesia, up to and including that he's some kind of zombie/dying and being regenerated (this would explain the "perished" thing earlier, and perhaps his "putrid" blood, and then that would mean restoration pool was literally bringing him back to life...). I ended up wondering if he was in some sort of video game or training simulation, and he had to keep retrying this one mission over and over but kept dying?

...I don't know that other readers would go quite that off the rails with speculation there; I kind of have a tendency towards seeing outrageous twists because of what I read and write. But I do think that most readers would find the way Lucca approaches this conversation, and the subject of his training in general, as a bit odd. To me it would make more sense if Lucca were framing this more as "I wish you would tell me why" or "what is this all for, really?" rather than I don't know why. It's true that he literally doesn't know the macro-level reason, but Alver has a point... there's some personal reason he's been

Its main features were a valley that ran down the centre and a collection of giant stone streetlamps discarded all around.
"Discarded" doesn't sound right her. "Scattered," maybe?

He counted coiled six tails, while the body was more cub-like compared to the mature form of the taller fox.
"Six coiled" rather than "coiled six."

He ran towards them, leaving Alver with an arm hung.
What kind of gesture are you trying to convey with "an arm hung?"

The pink Pokémon punched Kartana away and then stumbled around to stifle its agony, its front feet held over its left eye. The blood seeped out from there, so much of it that its splatters could be heard over the Pokémon’s desperate whimpers.
"Stifle" strikes me as an odd word to use here. The amount of blood being indicated here strikes me as a bit melodramatic; I think if enough blood was welling up to drip that loudly, Stufful would bleed out pretty fast.

Unlike Lucca’s previous clashes, the knife was light enough for him to not spin around or lose his grip. So he grinded the blade against Kartana with a livid growl of increasing volume, determined not to let go.
"Unlike Lucca's previous clashes" here refers to the knife, which I think is not what you want to compare to a clash. Adding an "in" after "unlike" would be enough to fix the confusion there, I think. In the second sentence you want "ground" rather than "grinded."

The two Pokémon stood before him had childishly excited grins.
*standing before him

He gave them both a pat on the head, and Lucca finally burst from happiness.
This makes it sound like Lucca literally burst, which I don't think is what you're going for.

Like this, Mimia could swim and breathe underwater, although he had a little space of air.
I don't think "although" is the word you want here.

Our supply of Bestia energy is nearly exhausted, and should it continue, this land will become unhabitable...
"Should it continue" here is a bit weird, since "it" refers to Bestia energy. Something like "should it continue to deplete" would work better here.

“For the sake of Reverie, and all these Pokémon. Uh, yes sir!” Lucca saluted. He nodded at Mimia, and were on their way.
I think you're missing a word--"they were on their way."

“Yeah! It’s feral language. It’s what him and all the Pokémon that live in the wild speak in Heroica, apparently.” He nodded. “You can understand the Ultra Beasts though, right? I mean you spent all that time studying them.”

“Well yes, but their language is completely different to that of your friend. Or Pokémon, for that matter,” Alver said. He grumbled something. “Don’t you find it odd or unsettling, though? I thought Mimia to be the silent type. He never ever responds to anything I say or do. And now I see he talks to you through those… noises. But I know he can talk. Rather fluently for someone who was feral, too. Don’t you find that rather suspicious?”
This was another thing that I thought it was strange that the characters apparently hadn't discussed before. Alver's really never noticed that Mimia can talk to Lucca? My impression is that they've been together for months, if not years, at this point.

That blue hue was all the light this mountain had from below, until the red glow of light that peaked through the clouds in lightning shaped rays lit the top.
You want "peeked" rather than "peaked," and I'm not sure what "lightning-shaped" rays are supposed to look like. Generally sunlight doesn't behave like lightning... rays of sun are generally straight.

He put a flipper by his eye as a cool breeze shuffled the woodland.
Hmm, I don't think you want "shuffled" here. "Rustled through" the woodland or something, perhaps?

“This is my first time seeing the colour green, put it that way,” he said.
Then... how does he know the color he's seeing is green?

All in all, I think it's going to be fun to follow Lucca's fish-out-of-water adventure in the land of Heroica! These first two chapters leave us at a very exciting point in the story, where Lucca and company finally start to get exploring a world that's only a fairytale to them (well, Mimia excepted). It'll be fun seeing how they adapt from being in a world of such scarcity to one of plenty and life. These early chapters set you up for a real fantasy epic, and you've constructed a wonderful world for it to take place in. I'm excited to see where this one goes, and I hope you have fun with it!
 

Equitial

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. inkay
Chapter 1

While reading this first chapter, the thing that most stuck out to me was the setting and overall aesthetic of the world. You have quite a fun and creative concept going on -- Pokemon having to use physical weapons because of the loss of the energy which powers their abilities. It's fun twist on the concept of Pokemon and makes for a great set-up to a high fantasy adventure. I particularly liked the settings and your descriptions of them. Toward the beginning, I liked this passage:

The silence of the mountains answered him. Hollow wind, a grumbling lava flow in the distance, and the rumble of his stomach. Everything had a nasty, blood-red colour besides the valleys and holes littered all over the place where streams of lava could be seen. This lava was blue, and even sent blue embers into the steamy air.

The description of Lucca's surroundings are very vivid, and the aesthetic is pretty cool! I like the image of blue lava. This description harkens back to classic fantasy, but with its own unique twists!

Another passage I liked was the one describing the abandoned village. I especially liked the touch of the old unlit lanterns.

Just like the field, this area barely qualified as a village even though it had the name. It had more rotten fencing around it, dead trees, and a few small mountains that hid it from view. Its main features were a valley that ran down the centre and a collection of giant stone streetlamps discarded all around. All of the lamps were unlit and engraved with ancient markings, but had weathered to point of being unreadable. Everywhere in this village was grey and dusty, unlike the hard red rock in the rest of Reverie.

Many of the other concepts in this chapter intrigued me as well. From more minor details like weapons made from Ultra Beasts, to larger questions of where Lucca is and why he believed he, his father, and Culver were the only other Pokemon, this all feels like great set-up! It really reminds me of epic fantasy stories.

Because of the premise of the story, the combat in this chapter stuck out to me as well. As I said before, the weapons lead to a neat aesthetic! From the start I like the mental image of a Popplio handing a sword --

If he held it straight down, he could stand on his tail flippers and not fall over.

-- and the actual action sequences were nice too! My favorite moments are when Lucca's father rescues him from the Kartana and this bit here:

In that moment, the pink Pokémon barked and charged forward at an unexpected speed. It bashed knife-first into Buzzwole’s chest with so much force that the swollen Pokémon was knocked off its legs. It crashed to the ground in a crumbling heap of dust and broken stone, and didn’t stand back up.

Lucca, on the other hand, I found a bit difficult to sympathize with at first. In the first scene, I felt a disconnect because of the lack of context. It was difficult for me to understand Lucca when I didn't know his goals. After that, I found his personality too immature and whiny to like immediately. However, the other aspects of the chapter kept me engaged, and during the final scene his heroic rescue of Stufful and the other Pokemon was a dramatic, endearing moment. As a character, Lucca seems like he will undergo a lot of growth. He complained that he wasn't a hero in the beginning, but deep down it seems like he's ready and willing to rise to the occasion!

“Oh come on! Fourteen is double digits. Numbers don’t go much higher than that,” he said.

“… They go far higher than that, Lord Lucca,” Alver sighed, resuming their trip.

This just made me smile.

So, from the first chapter, my initial impression is that this fic will be an action-packed fantasy adventure with creative settings and worldbuilding concepts.


Typos and other writing issues:

He shut right up and his heart began to race, but focused.

You seem to be missing something toward the end. "He focused," maybe?

“Krakeeek! Kartana screeched as it swooped back for more.

Missing quotation marks.

“That’s father to you,”

Father should be capitalized. I think, "That's 'Father' to you," would be the best phrasing here.


Throughout the chapter, I noticed some filler words that weakened prose. For instance, I noticed some unnecessary adverbs, like here:

He kept totally silent as he slowly stepped around his sword to scan the area.

"Silent" by itself indicates he's making no noise, yes?

Some sections also could have been written more actively.

just about managed to clash blades with the Kartana. It hit so hard that both of them jolted back and his sword went flying out of his flippers

"Just about managed" is wordy and dampens the action, and also seems inaccurate? The wording suggests they didn't hit. You want strong, stand-alone verbs during fight scenes with clear, concise action. A way to rewrite this could be "Lucca's blade clashed against the tip of the Kartana's."

In the second sentence, "It hit so hard that..." is similarly wordy. Fight scenes also benefit from shorter sentences. So a possible way to rewrite these lines more dynamically is, "The impact jolted them both back. His sword flew out of his flippers."
 
Ruby Episode 1: The Special Child

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Megan complete - Copy (2).png

CONTENT WARNING: chapter contains underage gambling abuse.

Ruby Episode 1: The Special Child




A Typhlosion sprinted through the storm-struck forest, unaffected by the swampy ground. Behind her came the violent crashes of falling trees and the shrill cries of her pursuers. The rain had deepened into a torrential downpour, obscuring her path, but the Typhlosion didn't falter. She continued to run, her head low, her mane blazing. Her front paws cradled a Cyndaquil.

Cyndaquil felt suffocated. She could just about twist her body to see ahead, but all that yielded were blurry colours that zoomed past. Her body was freezing, which made her mother’s grip feel like daggers that pierced her sides. All she could do was shiver and huff as she was squeezed into her mother’s drenched fur, and wait desperately for whatever was happening to end.

A loud crash made her cringe hard. Several trees had collapsed to the ground. She had no idea what was going on, other than that her mother was running and something was chasing them. Every instinct made her think she was going to die. And then her mother skidded to a stop.

Her mother turned around, allowing Cyndaquil to finally see what was chasing them, but she could barely make out their silhouettes. There was some kind of giant Ribombee that held a staff in its long, dangly arms. It was surrounded by a host of unfamiliar Pokémon that made wild noises and stomped the ground. They cornered Mother on the edge of a cliff.

“There’s nowhere else to run. Just put the child down and leave. We promise we’ll let you live,” the bug-type said in a posh tone. Lightning flashed somewhere in the distance, and a gush of wind made the fire types shiver. Cyndaquil whimpered as her Mother’s grip grew tighter than before. “Don’t make us have to take you as well. Just think about your odds.”

Typhlosion didn’t reply. She held her Cyndaquil in a stiff stance that looked ready to run again. The instant her attackers shifted toward her, she threw herself off the cliff. That was the last Cyndaquil saw of them before everything became a blur.

She let out a frightful gasp as her body churned and her view spiralled out of control, while an even heavier wind ruffled her fur. Typhlosion’s grip became so tight that she felt like she might throw up from having to breathe damp fur for so long. And just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was a hard splash, and then every sound was replaced with muffled noise.

Cyndaquil opened her mouth to scream, but all she got was a painful gulp of water down her throat. All of a sudden, she was deep in a cold, murky river, but still cradled so tight that she couldn’t move. She squirmed, gurgled and snorted desperately as a powerful current pulled them against their will. Typhlosion took several bumps and crashes, but each one jolted Cyndaquil enough to open her mouth or sniffle, where a sharp pain coursed through her. Soon enough, her body was limp and her eyesight darkened as she gradually lost focus.

She didn’t know how long she was underwater for, but it was long enough that everything felt like a hazy, feverous dream. She didn’t even realise that she had been taken out of the water, but was still cradled by that overprotective grasp. Everything was blurry beyond recognition now, and she was so damp that water cascaded off her. Desperate coughs and gasps were all she could manage. It felt like Typhlosion managed two more steps before they collapsed, and she was squashed into the swampy ground below.

Cyndaquil lay there in a whimpering, trembling trance. Her mother was heaped over her and half-buried her in a deep pool of mud. If she didn’t drown from the river, then she could drown here. It still rained, she was too weak to move the heavy body above her, and every part of her body hurt. It didn’t take long for her to faint.

Just before her consciousness faded completely, another silhouette popped up before her, this one totally unrecognisable due to how blurry and faded everything was. But the figure was huge and wide, and loomed over them.

“You poor child. Your mother has fallen down,” the figure said. Her voice was serene and heavenly. “If I didn’t show up, you might have died, too.”







“Argh get away!” Ruby gasped and sat up in a flash. Her breaths were frantic and her body was drenched in sweat, while her eyes struggled to adjust to the early morning light. The Cyndaquil sat there for a while to calm herself, but couldn’t get the scene out of her head. She was alone in a cosy room on a bed of hay. No one was around, she wasn’t drowning, and the weather outside looked pleasant.

That one again, huh?” she thought as her breath settled. “Ever since I made plans to get outta here, I can’t stop thinkin’ about it. Dang it. Well, it’s early enough to get on with stuff still, so no use complainin’.

She grunted and clutched her stomach. She realised her insides felt like they were on fire, and despite being a fire type Pokémon, that was the distant opposite of comfortable. Her stomach hurt so much that she couldn’t sit still to resist the pain. The only evidence anything was wrong was how swollen she looked. She was a rather chubby Cyndaquil in general, but right now, she looked like something might burst right out of her belly.

“D-damn it, this too!” she growled and dove for the fireplace. With a growl, then a cough, then a roar, she exhaled an enormous stream of fire directly into the fireplace. Her back flared to extreme heights while the flames quickly flooded the small enclosure, where they overflowed up the chimney in no time at all. Outside, a pillar of flame shot up into the sky as if the house was an erupting volcano, complete with a high-pitched kettle screech and a cloud of sooty smoke.

She exhaled these flames for a upwards of a minute, too. During that time her belly deflated, not to a normal size, but to the roundness of a pudgy Pokémon her size. She was left puffing, panting, and shivering on all fours to not fall face flat.

“Stupid… thing. Argh. Okay Ruby. You can do this,” she whispered as she caught her breath again. Her head felt light thanks to all the heavy breaths, but at least now she just felt like a normal morning kid. Hungrier than a Munchlax, a throat drier than a desert, and a grogginess that said to get back in bed and never get up.

She stood on her hind legs and looked around. This house had nothing for her needs. Besides the fireplace, there was a small beanbag for a bed, two windows, and that was it. The walls and floor were whatever the natural stone of the village was. “This is the last time I’m gonna see this dump. Good riddance.

She bolted out the door, kicked it closed behind her, and then looked to the masterpiece that was next door. She lived next to a well-made trio of domes in the shape and colour of a Pikachu, complete with a letterbox, paned windows, and a welcome mat. She knew indoors had more than the basic level of furniture, too. Before she approached, a Piplup came out and politely shut the door behind her.

“Ruby! I-I knew you were going to try and barge in here first thing,” Piplup cried. Her voice had a mature deepness, though to Ruby’s annoyance, its tone was calm.

“Oh hi Crystal. I actually wasn’t, but I was gonna knock,” Ruby said.

“I know you though! You never knock when you explode your flames like that,” Crystal said. She gasped and shook herself. “Sorry, we were just startled this time. It’s kind of early, but that was way more fire than we’re used to.”

“Wait, you saw that?” Ruby said.

“I’d be surprised if anybody in the village didn’t see it. You’ve been exploding like that kind of often lately, you know,” Crystal said, and scratched the back of her head. Ruby only just noticed the red scarf around her neck, as well as the sharp weapon strapped to her back.

“Well, whatever. You get the picture, it looks like,” she said. She turned her volume down. “Ready to hit the road? We’re getting’ outta here and we’re not comin’ back ‘till we’ve got cold, hard, revenge.”

“Well… revenge is your thing, Ruby.” Crystal turned away. She shook again and pointed a wing at her. “Besides, you’re not ready. We couldn’t leave even if we wanted to.”

“The heck’re you talkin’ about? You just praised me for my Flamethrower, now you’re sayin’ I’m not ready to hit the road?” Ruby said. In that moment, her eyes opened wide, which made Crystal shift back a bit.

“For starters, you opened your eyes again.” She pointed out.

“You’re the only one in the village who isn’t scared of that. Why complain now?” Ruby said.

“If we’re going out into public, you have to look as normal a Cyndaquil as possible, otherwise everyone will stare at us. Suzie will find us in no time,” Crystal said.

Ruby turned away. She had to take a deep breath to hold back an outburst, but her heart weighed her down in embarrassment. She hated that Crystal was right about this, but the idea of trying to be ‘normal’ was what hurt her the most. Years of trying to fit in with the know-it-alls of the village taught her she could never be normal.

“And you know all about the Bestia laws. The Pokémon have accepted it here, but if we go out into the road, using your fire would make it seem like you’re using Bestia in public. Other Pokémon would be all over you for sure! You need a weapon.” Crystal continued. “And don’t tell me you can fight without a weapon or your fire, because I know you can’t.”

“Tsk, fine, whatever. Where the heck am I supposed to find a weapon? Unlike you, Suzie’s not gonna just give me one. And she’ll probably guess what we’re up to the moment me or you ask,” she said.

“Yeah, that’s true. I’m sure we can find something, though,” Crystal said, and walked behind her. “Let’s look around the village. If we look hard enough, I’m sure we can find the perfect weapon for you, Ruby.”

“Tch. Even if we find one, I’m probably not even gonna use it,” she mumbled. She turned to the scenery of the village. “It is a good excuse to get something to eat, though. There’s an earthquake going on in my stomach.

Ruby took off with a sprint on all fours. She had been through Lillistep Village’s cosy paths far too many times to care about the sentimental views of leaving it all behind. It was a boring old bundle of tiny homes built on top of fields of yellow grass, surrounded completely by thick forest. There was the most basic Kecleon shop built into a home ever, the Kangaskhan nursery she lived next to, a river on one side of the village, and that was all.

The weather was always warm even when there were pathetic showers they called rains. The sky was always blue too, and there never seemed to be more than three Pokémon walking around outside at once. If there was, that meant there was a traveller, but those travellers never stayed for longer than a day. They’d never let her join them even when she begged.

But today, today was when things were supposed to look and feel different. Today was the day she planned to leave, find that Pokémon from her nightmares, and burn them until not even ashes were left. No matter where she looked, Lillistep was too boring to feel sad about leaving behind.

“Ruby, wait for me!” Crystal cried in the distance. Ruby skidded to a stop outside the Kecleon shop and gave the Piplup a cocky smile. “Geez, why do you have to rush everywhere? You know I can’t keep up with you.”

“But what’s the holdup? You’re gonna have to learn to keep up with me if you want me to be normal!” she giggled. She bounced on her hind legs while she waited for Crystal to catch up, but froze when a trio of new figures emerged from inside the shop.

Ruby had never seen this species before in her life. They were tall, humanesque figures clad from head to toe in dirty, metal armour. Horned helmets hid every feature of their faces, while bladed shoulder pads and spiky knees covered the rest. Even their five-fingered hands were made of stiff metal and were as sharp as a claw. One of these metal monsters held the cloth of the shop’s entryway open for its comrades to come through, and then the three of them marched off without paying her any mind.

“What are those?” Crystal asked, making Ruby jump.

“Took you long enough to catch up. Why don’t we find out?” she said, and dashed into the shop.

“Aww, please stop running,” Crystal panted.

“Kecleon, who were those big guys?” Ruby asked right away. The aged Kecleon behind the counter was startled enough to snap his tongue in the air.

“Gosh dang it Ruby, don’t scare me like that! At least knock before you enter,” he said. He coughed dryly and had to smack his chest.

“You don’t have a door. Kinda hard to knock first.” She smiled.

“Again with that old gag. Just don’t come in shouting like a Loudred! There’s only so much this old heart can take,” he said.

“Yeah, okay whatever. Who were those guys? And what were they here for?” she said.

“Those were knights, the species who protect the big cities and greater population of Heroica,” he replied.

“Knights?” Crystal whispered.

Kecleon folded his arms. “They appear to be recruiting strong Pokémon for some massive construction project over in the east. I doubt they would find any muscle willing to travel that far in our fair village, but I appreciate that those higher class Pokémon remember us.”

“Huh. Well, whatever, that’s none of my business.” Ruby shrugged.

“Psst, Ruby. Mum always said that if we ever saw a knight, to make sure they didn’t see you and come home right away. We’ve got to go back and tell her,” Crystal said.

“Suzie doesn’t matter anymore, Crystal. We’re getting’ outta here today one way or another,” Ruby said. “Hey Kecleon! Gimme a weapon!”

“A weapon?” he gasped.

“Yeah! Somethin’ to fight feral Pokémon with!” She bounced with excitement.

“By my dead body! It’d be the death of us if we let a troublemaker rascal like you run around with a weapon,” he shouted. “Besides, it’s illegal for unmatured Pokémon to use weapons. Either evolve first, or show that you’re an adult.”

“Aw man, what? Crystal you knew about this, didn’t you?” she cried. She turned to the Piplup and flared her back. “Also, she’s wimpier than me and she’s LITERALLY carrying a weapon on her back right now. Can he not see that?

“I didn’t actually know it was law. But that does change things.” Crystal tilted her head to the side. “Leaving Lillistep is going to be a lot harder than I thought.”

“Ugh, forget it then. You always do this to me,” she growled and turned back to Kecleon. “Just gimme six apples and some water.”

“Wait, six?” Crystal leaned away.

“Three for breakfast now, and three for the road, heh,” she said. She took a huge chomp of one the moment they were handed to her.

“The way you eat, I’m sure that problem with your belly is more than just the fire thingy,” Crystal mumbled.

The comment made her look down at herself and blush. “Sh-shut up! I may look fat, but I’m still faster than you. Want me to prove it again?”

“Oh no, please don’t—” Crystal gasped, but was left with a wing hung forward as Ruby dashed out on her anyway. “Sheesh. Why do you have to be like this?”

She didn’t run very far this time though, only to the centre of the village to look around. “O-kay. If I were a weapon, where would I find myself?”

But there was no one around. Not this early in the morning, anyway. She took a gulp of water and then slowly spun to scan the village. She grumbled in bother until she spotted the knights from earlier. From where she was now, it looked like they descended into the ground, to which she opened and rubbed her eyes. “Wait a minute, the knights! Of course. I’ll get one of ‘em to give me a weapon. If they travelled this far out, they must have one or two spare.”

“B-but we were told to stay away from them,” Crystal cried. Ruby hadn’t realised she had caught up.

“I just told you Crystal, Suzie doesn’t matter anymore. Those things probably aren’t even dangerous! We just have to ask ‘em to gimme a weapon,” she said.

“… And if they say no?” Crystal said with her head cocked to the side. Ruby got cross.

“Then I’ll take it from them. By force. I’ve got more than enough fire in this belly to scorch a big steel type like that,” she said.

“But Ruby, that’s stealing! And stealing is wrong,” Crystal cried.

Ruby turned around and growled. “Y’know, it’s replies like that make me kinda hate you.”

“Huh? Don’t say something mean like that.” Crystal slumped forward.

“It’s wrong for me to want to leave this stupid village. It’s wrong for me to wanna learn how to fight. It’s wrong for me to shoot fire, even though it hurts super bad when I don’t. And now it’s wrong for me to wanna steal something to do what I need to do,” she said. Crystal went quiet. “Well it never stopped that murderer from stealing my Mother’s life. I’m going to find that bastard no matter what it takes, and kill him for killing my Mother. I told you that already.”

“Ruby…” Crystal muttered.

“So if you’re gonna start getting all babyish and don’t wanna help me, then go back home and follow Suzie! I’m not waiting for you. You’re either in or you’re out,” she said.

Crystal shut her eyes and sighed deeply. When she opened them, she had a strange look on her face. It was almost like her beak had a determined frown, even though that was impossible. “I would be a pretty bad friend if didn’t keep you out of trouble. And, well…”

“Well?” Ruby raised an eyebrow.

Crystal played with her wings for a bit and then shook herself. “Never mind, it’s nothing.”

Ruby sighed. “Look, I’m not gonna be Flamethrower happy and just set everythin’ on fire. I know you wanna stay outta trouble, so I’m not gonna willingly put you in it. When I say I’m gonna take a weapon from ‘em, I’d only do that if I absolutely had to. Worst comes to worst, I leave and just don’t battle until we find a weapon on the road or somethin’, ‘kay?”

“I’m sorry, Ruby. I know how much this means to you, but I just don’t like fighting,” Crystal said, facing the floor.

“Why don’t you gimme your weapon? I can just go on my own,” she said.

“What? N-no, I’m coming with you. I don’t want to leave you alone,” Crystal cried.

“Heh, that’s more like it. So let’s find those knights,” she said, and charged off.

“Oooh, I don’t like this,” Crystal moaned as she tripped after the Cyndaquil.

They ran up to the river and then jogged alongside it until they reached the top of the hill where the knights vanished. They both came to a complete stop with gasps and gawks. They overlooked a building bigger than the others in the village. This one was made of stone, yet painted a myriad of bright, neon colours from top to bottom. It wasn’t shaped like a dome either, but a cuboid. It even had a large board above the entrance that looked like shiny coins.

“Wait a minute, why haven’t I seen this before?” Ruby whispered.

“The Pay Day casino. It was hidden behind the hill and the river, so I guess you never saw it,” Crystal said. She gave Ruby a cheeky look. “Or maybe you did and you just don’t remember.”

“A flashy place like this? I think I’d remember.” Ruby cocked her head.

“You didn’t remember to wash this morning, did you?” Crystal said, still cheeky. Ruby sniffed herself and tried to hide a blush. “Don’t worry about it. Mum always said to avoid this place, too.”

“Suzie really said that? Man, she’s a weirdo. Look at this place! Who wouldn’t wanna go here? But this is where those guys went, so,” she said. She took off, once again leaving Crystal with a wing hung forward.

She was excited about finding a new place for once, but it didn’t live up to her expectations. The casino was as large as one long, spacious hall with a few tables laid out here and there. There were a few groups of Pokémon at those tables, but not nearly enough to be called a party. None of them were interesting species to her, either.

“Aww man. Lillistep manages to make everything look boring,” she groaned as she scanned the room for the knights. The walls were covered with boards of information, paintings, and more décor that resembled coins. Grey coloured Meowth and smirking Purrloin seemed to be the common staff about the place, but every single one of them wore a strange, fur-tight cloth adorned with a pattern like Meowth coins.

“Hey!” a gruff call got her attention. Just the Pokémon she was looking for, one of three knights marched over. “This is no place for kids. I’m going to have to ask you to leave, I’m afraid.”

“That’s fine, I don’t wanna be here anyway. But I was lookin’ for you guys,” she said. She bounced on her hind legs. “Gimme a weapon! You guys musta come from far away, right? So you’ve got one for me!”

“A weapon? Not for a little kid like you,” the knight replied, and leaned back. His allies walked over.

“Aw c’mon, I’m desperate here! You guys have gotta have somethin’ I can use. I wanna travel and learn how to fight and stuff. Tell ‘em, Crystal,” she said, and glanced back. She had to double take as the Piplup wasn’t behind her. “Wait what? Argh, Crystal you coward. So much for helping me.

“Sorry kid, that’s against the law. But I do understand your enthusiasm. What’s your name?” the knight asked. He tapped his spear on the floor.

Ruby was hesitant. “It’s Ruby.”

“Well then, Ruby. Have you heard about the monster of Misgeriom Woods?” the knight said. The other two knights seemed to brighten up behind him, and began muttering to each other.

“Ugh, that old story? About the monster in the forest that eats children? That’s just a scary old rumour to scare kids into never leaving,” she said. She gestured rolling her eyes with a twirl of her head. “I ain’t afraid of that. I’ve gotta get outta here one way or another, so I can’t let dumb old stories like that scare me.”

The knight was about to respond, but one of his comrades leaned in to whisper. Once they stood back, he stood straight and tapped his spear again. “I know this is sudden, but I have a question for you, Miss Ruby.”

“Huh? It’s funny being called Miss.” She rubbed her face.

“You wouldn’t happen to know a Kangaskhan called Suzie, would you?” he asked.

Huh? Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Do they know her? Suzie’s never said anything about the knights before. Wait, what Crystal said before,” she thought, recalling Crystal’s warning from earlier. Combined with the fact that the Piplup didn’t come in with her, Ruby’s chest became heavy. “This means they know who Suzie is, and they want something bad with her. But what? Suzie’s the last Pokémon I expect to be in trouble.

“Excuse me? Young miss, you’re being spoken to,” one of the knights said.

Hmm. Maybe if I tell ‘em, they’ll reward me with a weapon though. That must be why they’re talkin’ so smart,” she thought, and nodded to herself. “She runs the nursery here. It’s the big building that looks like a Pikachu.”

“She’s really here?” the knight gasped and leaned back. He and his comrades exchanged glances and nods. “We must move quickly. Thank you, Miss Ruby.”

“Wa-wait, what about my weapon?” Ruby cried as they jogged out. With their height and long legs, she had no chance of catching up. “Aww man, cheapskates!”

“Forget them. Upstarts like them wouldn’t give you a single coin even if you licked their boots clean, let alone a weapon,” a gritty male voice got her attention. She turned to see a Charmeleon approaching her. His scales were a bit discoloured and marked with stains in places, and he had an unpleasant stench around him. However, he did have a weapon strapped to his back. “But they’re right about one thing. This ain’t no place for a kid. Get outta here before you slow the games down.”

“The games,” Ruby mumbled. She couldn’t take her eyes off the weapon. He noticed her and twisted to look back at it, and then held it out for her. It was an umbrella, but it looked unusually well refurbished and sturdy.

“I heard you earlier. You’re looking for a weapon, and this might do the trick,” he said. She bounced on her toes. “Well, this is a place that defines ‘lucky day’, so I might just give it to you. But I’m gonna have to ask you to do a few bits for me first.”

“That’s shady. Why would I trust a homeless bum?” she said. Charmeleon fell backwards.

“Yikes. The lil’ lady doesn’t hold back an inch. But everybody else is just gonna pull the illegal card on you, so it’s not like you have any other options,” he said. She tilted her head to the side. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to get you to do anything tough. If you can get me enough Gald that I won’t need the weapon anymore, it’s yours.”

“How could I get you Gald, though? I’m only carryin’ pocket money myself,” she said.

“Through the games, of course. It’s illegal for kids to play gambling games, but they say the young have a mystical aura of luck and focus about them that makes them ace at games of chance. Plus… I’ve seen you. Your eyes can open, can’t they?” he said with a sneaky smile.

Ruby shifted back and her chest became heavy again.

“Don’t worry, I promise I won’t hurt you or anything. I’m not forcing you, either. But I know enough about Pokémon with unusual traits. A Cyndaquil who can open their eyes ought to have way good focus,” he said, pointing a nail at her. “So, what do you say? Win me some Gald and the brella’s yours.”

“Show me that, first. If it’s just some lousy normal umbrella then—” she started to say, but he cut her off by opening it out in her face.

The umbrella’s canopy was covered with all sorts of brand logos and fancy writing, while the ribs and handle were as sturdy and shiny as a well-forged sword. But the canopy didn’t seem to be as thin as a normal umbrella. It was almost like a metal shield had been stuck on top of a metal pole, but Charmeleon was able to pull the umbrella down just like any other umbrella.
S2_Weapon_Main_Splat_Brella.png

“It’s a specialised weapon of mine called a Parashelter. Light enough to be an actual umbrella and shield my poor tail from the rain, but strong enough to ward off the blade of a sword or a claw!” Charmeleon bragged, and waved the weapon around with enthusiasm. “Block attacks and shove your enemy back with the brella shield, and then give ‘em a mighty whack like it’s a baseball bat. This thing served me well on all my journeys.”

“Oh yeah. Then how comes you don’t want it anymore?” she said.

“It’s not that I don’t want it anymore, it’s that I don’t want to need it anymore. I’m too old to go gallivanting up and down mountains on adventures! So I want to settle down in a nice, big home in the big city. And to do that, I need lots of Gald,” he said.

I’m sure there are better ways to do that than risking it all on gambling, but if he really is gonna give me a weapon that awesome, then I should be nice to him and play along. All I have to do is win a few adult games. How hard can it be?” she thought to herself. “Okay. What do you need me to do?”

“First of all, call me Smokes. Smokes the Charmeleon.” He bowed.

“Oh er, I’m Ruby. But I guess you already knew that,” she said. He surprised her by lifting her up, but he was unexpectedly delicate with his claws, delicate enough to make her blush a little. She hadn’t been held up like this for longer than she could properly remember. He somehow didn’t smell as bad here, either.

“We’ll start here. It’s a roulette wheel. All you have to do is guess where the ball is going to land by choosing a number and a colour. So go on, open those eyes and see how you feel,” Smokes said.

Ruby relaxed herself as she looked over the strange game. It was a rotating board with a ton of writing on it, but it spun so fast that most of the details were a blur. Three other Pokémon watched the board, while a Meowth watched her and Smokes, so it was as if they were being waited on to say something.

“Oh and don’t say the number out loud. Just whisper it,” Smokes said. The other Pokémon gave him funny looks of course, which took her out of that relaxation.

All that uncomfortable nervousness settled in big-time. How could she reveal that she was a freaky Cyndaquil in front of them all, especially when they were onto Smokes? Were they waiting for someone to tell her that she wasn’t old enough to be here?

No. None of that matters. C’mon Ruby. This is for the weapon. For revenge. Just do it.” Her thoughts made her shudder. Even with that resolve, she felt like her heart was about to fall out of her behind. Her face tensed, and then her eyes opened, fully visible. Glistening, sea-blue eyes that she knew didn’t suit a Cyndaquil at all.

But only when she was brave enough to open her eyes like this could she actually see correctly. No longer was everything surrounded by blur. And when it came to things like the roulette board, it didn’t seem to spin so fast, either. She pictured it as a Forretress rotating at high speed. Where her Flamethrower would hit if she was to try and strike the bug hidden behind the shell would be where the ball would stop.

“There’s a lot of numbers so I dunno if I’m right, but the one with fourteen on it,” she whispered.

Smokes put her down, placed his coins on the table, and made his call. “Black Fourteen.”

Ruby tried to hop up to the table and see what was going on, but Smokes stopped her. At least the other Pokémon stopped staring. She heard a few light clack sounds and excited squeaks from the other Pokémon, and then a resounding gasp.

“Black fourteen!” the Purrloin staff called out.

I got it right?” Ruby gasped in her head.

“Goldeen! I doubled just like that,” Smokes cheered.

“Does that mean—” she gasped.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself. I had a measly thousand Gald. Got to win another round before the confidence strikes,” he said, and picked her up again.

“A thousand’s already richer than me.” She frowned and grumbled, but got to work. “On the left. Thirty-six, I think?”

He put her down, so it was back to relying on the sounds. “Black thirty-six. Putting all in again,” he called out.

Despite not being able to watch, Ruby’s heart continued to race, and she held her breath even after the board stopped rattling. “Black thirty-six!”

Another round of gasps, and Smokes threw his fists in the air. “Fuck yeah! I knew I struck gold.”

“Should we—” she said quietly.

“Not yet. Just one more will put me at eight-thousand Gald, more than enough to make it to the city and back. Just one more game, I swear it,” he gasped.

She sucked in a breath and played along until she saw all the other Pokémon muttering to each other. The staff had a concerned gaze on her too, and she gulped. Something about this made her ill, but if she only had to do it one more time, then that was alright, right? It even seemed like the Purrloin spun the board extra fast as if to throw her off.

But Ruby’s eyes could see it all. Or was it prediction? She didn’t know or care. That Forretress of a roulette board wasn’t going to throw her off. The higher speed almost helped, in a way. At that momentum, the ball only had one place it could land.

“It’s the number three,” she whispered.

“Red three,” Smokes said calmly.

Ruby had to clutch her chest this time. She felt like she could be sick. All was silent besides the rattles of the board, and that went on extra long due to how fast it had been spun. And then when everything came to a stop, there was a few seconds of silence. Mutters then broke out, followed by a shaky announcement: “Red… R-red three.”

“Oh yeah baby, it’s a literal jackpot!” Smokes cheered.

“Sir,” the Purrloin said sternly.

“Nah it’s okay, I’ve had enough honey. Eight-thousand smackaroos, we’ll call it quits here,” he snickered as he scooped the chips off the table. He ran off without Ruby, to which she gasped and sprinted after him.

“Hey!” she shouted with a flared back as she gave chase.

“Oh yeah. They really don’t like you,” he said without looking at her. He slid the chips over the counter, and the staff behind it began to count coins. He was quickly handed a sack full of them.

“Forget that. Remember your promise?” she said.

“Huh? Oh yeah, right. The Parashelter,” he said, glancing back and forth between his oversized coin sack and the umbrella. He strapped both to his back and held a claw forward. “One more thing.”

“That wasn’t what you promised! You said you just needed the money, and I got you the money,” she cried. She growled and looked away. “Even with everyone lookin’ at me like the freak I am…”

“One more thing, I promise. It won’t even take long. Just, follow me,” he said, and nudged her forward.

“Nah-uh, I ain’t gonna be your slave. Gimme the brella!” she shouted.

“Shh, I promise it’ll all make sense! Just hear me out,” he said quickly. “Ya’see, plans like this need backup plans, y’know? Like a fallback in case something goes wrong.”

“You need me to win a different game?” she raised an eyebrow.

“I wish. I’m probably banned for life from this place for pulling the shit I just did. But now, that ain’t it. I promise you, gentleman’s promise. It won’t take long,” he pleaded with claws pressed together. Ruby grumbled.

“Fine. But this better be it,” she said, and walked out.

“It’s not far. This way,” he directed her back up the hill towards the river. They walked around the top of the hill that hid the casino from view, where the river looked to be at its deepest. From here, the river ran into the forest. “If something was to happen to this money, or it turned out I didn’t have enough, I wanted to have a backup of sellable treasure. And there just so happens to be a divine piece of treasure hidden in the riverbed.”

“Right here?” Ruby tilted her head.

“Yes, right here. You’ve just got to dig on the floor down there. But as you can see, the water gets pretty deep here. And being a Charmeleon and all, I stand not a chance,” he said.

I’ve never heard of treasure in this river of ours. Wouldn’t it get washed away or somethin’?” She faced the river with a silent frown. It was quiet, but quite fast and looked cold. The water wasn’t exactly clean either, but it wasn’t so dirty it could make her sick.

“Do you trust me? I’m trusting you a lot with this secret, you know. We can’t tell anybody else,” Smokes said. He got on his knees and bowed to her. “Please! Just get to the bottom of the river and dig out that treasure. It’s a gold bracelet with a kind of like, angel wings or something on it? You won’t find anything else, so you can’t miss it.”

It’s not the fact that it’s water that’s a problem. This river’s nothing to me.” She turned to the river again. She reluctantly walked over, took a deep breath, and then clutched the ground so that she could dip her head in. She had to open her eyes to get a proper look around thanks to the muddy colours, but at least it didn’t irritate her eyes or anything.

The water went way deeper than it looked on the outside, but at least the sides looked to be made up of ledges so that she could climb back out. But just as she was about to pull her head back to reply to Smokes, she felt the sharp pain of a kick to the backside, and she flipped over right into the middle of the river.

“What? Why did you?” she shouted. Her voice came out with a weird echo and a number of large bubbles, but that didn’t deter her in the slightest. She snapped her mouth shut and curled up to squeeze her nose as she descended to the depths of the river.

She used the kick as a push to get to work, if there really was a secret treasure hidden here. A dark cloud of dust spread around as she landed on the riverbed, and she looked up with a worried expression at the distant surface. She could see a small stream of bubbles leaking from her lips despite her efforts to hold her breath, but she felt fine for now. The nasty chill and muffled current kept her worried, though.

Let’s just get this over with,” she thought, and growled.

Going on all fours, she crawled her way across the floor to search for any suspicious spots. She didn’t expect the riverbed to be so slimy, but she slipped ahead and over the obvious mound of dirt she went for first. She managed to grab the mound, but the current and her momentum made her flip over it.

Wait, how?” she thought. She had latched to something sharp that was just about sticking out of the mud. Holding her chest, she glance at the surface again, and then back to whatever this sharp thing was. She wasn’t exactly hurting for oxygen just yet.

She made sure her hind legs were planted and got to work. The effort she had to put in made her growl as she dug her forelegs into the mud and ripped it aside to dig out and reveal whatever this thing was. Once she saw that golden gleam, she could help but yelp with widened eyes. She slapped her forelegs over her mouth instantly, but that little yelp had put water in her mouth. It took everything she had not to spit out that toxic taste, but the gesture made her chest tighten.

It was do or die, now. She clenched her eyes shut and jammed her forelegs as deep into the mud as they would go, and then pulled with all her might. As soon as she started, she could feel her chest strain and she heaved a bit. She didn’t have the air for this.

Damn it no, just come free already!” she thought as she gave in and growled. She pooled the last of her strength to yank back, and with a gurgled cry, pulled the golden item so hard that she threw herself up with it.

Can’t, I can’t lose here!” she cried in her head.

She repeated those words as she fought the current to get a hold of herself. She scrambled over to the walls quicker than she knew she could, where she leapt up them in careless jumps. One leap from her left leg, then one from her right, but then her left leg slipped hard on the muddy wall.

She had her eyes shut now. Her gurgles and the muffled water around her kept her panic high, so she went right back to her jumps. Left leg, then right, then left again, and then her right slipped, but she jumped with it despite the balance and the strain to keep holding her breath.

The instant she heard a loud splash, she opened wide and gasped, sounding drier than a Magikarp out of water. Thankfully she grasped the edge enough to keep herself out of the river, but she still had to sit there for a good minute to recover before she could move. She felt miserable and pathetic from this little experience. She knew she could beat that river, and yet here she was, nearly drowning herself in a simple treasure hunt.

“What the fuck?” Smokes cried.

Ruby growled and looked up. She had to shake herself off, and still the water dripped off her fur in little streams. She couldn’t see him beyond an obnoxious blur. She could tell he’d fallen backward and stared with comical gawk. “I got your stupid treasure.”

“You.. b-but how… I—” he choked when she revealed it. A pure gold armlet with a series of intriguing, round designs across its surface. The top had a large diamond with three spikes underneath it, almost like it depicted some kind of Pokémon with three horns.

“It’s this, right?” she said, and shook herself again. It would take a while to get this water out of her, annoyingly.

“Uh, erm, right. Ahem.” Smokes got to his feet and corrected himself. “Well then? Hand it over.”

“You first! I don’t want any cheeky moves like kicking me again,” she said.

“Arf. Urgh, how did you even get out of that? You’re supposed to be dead, kid!” he raised his voice.

“Oh poor you. Turns out a little water ain’t enough to douse my flame.” She smiled cockily. “I train in this river. See how long I can hold my breath, fight the current and stuff. So I’m way stronger than a normal Cyndaquil.”

“Fuck off. Any fire type kid your age would get killed doing that!” Smokes said.

“That’s what I’m saying. I’m that strong,” she bragged.

“That’s impossible!” he snapped at her, and her eyes widened. “Fire types die submerged in water for that length of time, or at least they get crippled. That’s scientific fact! You mean to tell me you’re so much of a freak you regularly dive in for training?”

Fire types… die in water? Wait, if he kicked me in, then… he tried to kill me. He really tried to kill me?” she gasped. She glanced back at the river, and then at the armlet. Her eyes opened again, and this time they gleamed with a fiery light as strong as the flare on her back. “Give me the umbrella. Now.”

“Grr, fuck it. Whatever. I’ll just knock you out and dump your body in the river. Probably should’ve done that in the first place,” he said, and held his weapon defensively.
 
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Flyg0n

Flygon connoisseur
Pronouns
She/her
Partners
  1. flygon
Blitz review time!

I thought this was a very cool opening. We see little Lucca fighting or hunting this Kartana. Based on your choice of words and his behavior, I could tell that coming to fight a Kartana wasn't new to him, this was something he'd attempted before. Opening on action can sometimes be tricky but I think it worked well here to show something that was more 'normal' for Lucca.

Then we move on to his fight. I like a lot of the little details of how you describe the movement, I think that can be helpful to sometimes specify in a fight. However, while the fight was fun to read, it did occasionally feel wordy. Detail is good in sparse amounts, but in a fight sequence, it can slow down action.
I'm not an expert, but I do know I have read a lot of fights that I like. What I find works for me is to focus on writing short, choppy sentences. Cutting out unnecessary words can help a fight feel very 'punchy' and intense. I still thought aspects of your fight and details like how the swords were used was good to read though! It seems like you did a bit of research, which is cool.

Then we lead into the revelation that pokemon can't use moves at all (which we also reveal with Kartana.). The discussion between Lucca and his dad was funny to me. I loved how exasperated Lucca was.

Lucca talks with his 'consultant', so to speak, Alver. Alver seems like a fun character and his introduction was good. I could get a sense of his character as seemingly cautious yet knowledgeable and looking out for Lucca. He seems very patient too, Lucca is a bit of a handful. I did feel this section between him and Alver felt like it dragged a little for me. Some facts we as the audience already knew was restated, like how he feels about using a sword. I think if you did find a way to try and shorten, that might help.

The bits about Heroica and the books and some grand destiny are clearly important to your story, so you don't have to remove it entirely. Maybe some of the information you revealed in their conversation could be revealed in the next chapter instead?

Finally, the last sequence. I thought this was a great display of Lucca's character. Despite how he came off as a bit whiny in the beginning, he also shows that when things got serious, he was willing to step in and fight for what he believes. I was really cheering for him at the end, fighting for the little (Stufful)? His bravery really shone through! I like him already :3

I'll give some brief line by lines.

“I hate this, I hate this, I hate this I hate this I hate this!” Lucca shouted. The young Popplio was trying to hold a sword that was twice his height, but he couldn’t stay upright for more than a second. With a growl and a roar, he gave up and threw the weapon down. It clanged on the hard, red ground.

“This is stupid. If I’m going to be a hero, then why am I using a sword? Who gives a Popplio a sword?” he shouted at the top of his voice.
This was a good opening piece, very funny, shows a bit of Lucca's character, and the world. A popplio with a sword is pretty funny.

He held his breath. The thing he was looking for had drifted right in front of him so casually that he didn’t notice right away, but it was a too high to hit. The papery body of a Kartana, blades bared and folds stretched out.
This part did read weird to me that he didn't notice it right away, then in the same sentence say that it was too high to hit.
"The thing he was looking for had drifted right in front of him so casually that he almost didn’t notice right away. The papery body of a Kartana, blades bared and folds stretched out, floated just out of reach above his head."

He fell on his back too, but kept his eyes on the Kartana the whole time.
I think the "too" here isn't needed, you communicated the intent just fine without it.

He contemplated making a break for his sword, but the instant he made a move, Kartana slapped its blades together and flew towards him.
I was a bit confused here. He thinks about making a move, but then suddenly he's already made one and Kartana flies towards him. Perhaps you could say 'before he could make a move'?

He was ready. Just before Kartana hit, he deftly rolled to his side to dodge and then dove for his sword. However, Kartana was fast. By the time he had a flipper on his weapon, Kartana was in front of him. It hacked away at him, but he dodged each slash with desperate, slippery movements. With a flipper on his sword to keep his body upright, he bent his body to the left to dodge a stab, then leaned all the way to the right to avoid a horizontal slash, where he then let go to perform a backflip. His tail flippers kicked the Kartana away, where it screeched at him.
His breaths grew frantic as his view of everything but the Kartana blurred, who raised its blades to finish him off for sure.
imo, this sentence could have more impact if you cut off the 'for sure' at the end.

It threw its whole body into slash after slash after slash, but Primarina didn’t budge an inch from defence.
I think it's spelled defense.

He wasn’t relaxed. The only reason he would be here in the castle’s mystic healing pool was if he failed an objective and got hurt. This was his fourth time this week, so it was a feeling he loathed to have gotten used to.
This is a cool introduction to the fact that they have a healing pool, and how Lucca has tried this and failed before. One teeny tweak is instead of speaking generally about being in the pool, you could say 'in the castle’s mystic healing pool was if he failed the objective and got hurt.'

“That’s Father to you,” the serene male replied. This Primarina lacked pearls in his hair, so it was long and straight in style. He had his sword at his side too, a tachi that was as long as he was tall when he stood on his tailfins.
Cool details about male primarina and his sword!

So if you cannot hunt a Kartana, then you will simply starve.”
Interesting. So they're hunting them? I wonder what for? Probably not food, can't imagine they're edible lol

He slithered through the castle hallways like an Ekans, one flipper on his sword to keep it in place.
I am curious if his sword was hanging from a sheath, or was he just pressing it against his side. Also I appreciate the visual of Primarina slithering. :3

“But I’ve seen you make bubbles before. That’s gotta be Bubble Beam or something, right?” he said.

“Bubbles of air are a basic body function for us, Lucca. They do not require Bestia,” Father said.
This whole discussion was great lol. Also good for tying worldbuilding into plot and stuff.

“Our mission starts from in here, actually. Your task is to harvest the blades of a Kartana, correct? And the only way to do that is to defeat one. They’re very aggressive monsters,” Alver said. He tapped Lucca’s head with the tip of his staff. “Your attempts so far have been bold, as has your skill in battle. But you must think.”
Ah! so they want its blades. Neat!!

“Well first of all, details. Your father said that you must learn to use a weapon, correct? But he did not say what weapon to use,” Alver said with a single arm raised. That made Lucca pay attention. “You keep using that heavy sword you forged out of Celesteela metal… but what about the shield you got from the Stakataka stones?”
This was all pretty cool actually, making weapons from UBs

“I may get into trouble for saying this, but… there’s something very important we’re keeping from you,” Alver said. Lucca froze. “You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that this is all for a very good reason. It’ll pay off, and when it does, I’m sure you’ll be one of the happiest Pokémon in the world.”
I do wonder why they're hiding this from him. I'll be curious to see if this is elaborated on later (I hope so!)

A loud blast suddenly went off, followed by a rally of cries and a huge puff of dust not far in the distance.
Describing the dust as a puff here seems to undermine your point. I think cloud might fight your intentions better.

They’re going to lose. Alver, we have to help them,” Lucca said, and glanced at his friend.
HOORAY for Lucca!

“I’ll do something!” he called.
I was proud of his bravery here, even if he didn't know what to do. He tried.

Lucca had seen this enough times to dodge it on habit, but without a weapon, he was anxious for a safe way to retaliate.
Love how his experience fighting the Kartana, in the beginning, comes back here.

The pink Pokémon punched Kartana away and then stumbled around to stifle its agony, its front feet held over its left eye. Blood seeped out from there and stained its face.
I think you can cut to the chase and say "Blood seeped out, staining its face."

“Forget that, we need to get them to the healing pool, now!” Lucca said, turning to look for the Pokémon. However, the white foxes were nowhere to be seen. Only the pink Pokémon was there, and it was weak in a shrivelled heap. He could barely hear its shivering breath. “Hold that wound. We will save you!”

Good on you Lucca! I'm so proud to see him evolve!

Overall I enjoyed the chapter.

I think the biggest area is if you can keep working on those fight scenes. The details are good, but balance them with some short, snappy sentences. That'll help the reader feel like the fight is very action oriented and make your words have impact.

Otherwise, I liked Lucca as a character, I liked the premise, and I thought you added good worldbuilding details. Great job!
 
Ruby Episode 2: Set in Motion

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Megan complete - Copy (2).png

Ruby Episode 2: Set in Motion


Ruby was prepared to fight this Charmeleon, but the moment the battle began, everything felt like it was against her. Smokes thrust his umbrella at her like a spear, to which she leapt to her left. He swung at her several times, and she ducked and stumbled away from each attack. Eventually he stopped, letting her flare her back and prepare to attack. However, shifted back a little only to feel a foot slip down.

“Argh, darn it what?” she whispered and glanced back. The river was right behind her. She faced Smokes and snarled, who snickered.

“Yep. Nowhere for you to run, girl. Just get in the river and stay there,” he said.

I didn’t wanna have to do this here, but you’ve got no choice, Ruby!” she told herself as she planted her feet. She took a deep, loud breath and leaned back.

“Oh? You’re not going to resort to Bestia, are you?” he said, and waggled a nail at her. “Do that, and I’m sure the whole village will come running to take you down.”

She ignored him and exhaled a stream of fire. He coughed and flailed his arms to try and block it, but that was all Ruby saw before he disappeared behind a wall of flames. Knowing she’d hit, she kept up her attack until she was out of breath.

A large fire was left behind, but with the damp floor, it shrunk right before her eyes. Seconds later and she could hear Smokes’ angry growl amongst the crackling, and his umbrella pushed through the fire. He swung it around at the flames to get rid of them.

“Good gods girl, you’re out of your mind! What’re you trying to do, set the whole village alight?” he shouted as he stomped out the last of the fire. Ruby leaned back.

“For someone who just tried to kill me, that’s a weird thing to be worried about,” she said.

“Hey man, can’t have you wasting Bestia. I already told you the umbrella blocks weapons. Your Flamethrower isn’t going to work on it!” he shouted.

Ruby opened her eyes in surprise. “He’s right. He doesn’t have a scratch on him! And I’m pretty sure I hit him head on.

“Tch, got to make this quick. Pokémon are gonna come after that fire any minute now,” Smokes muttered as he looked over his shoulder.

But he doesn’t know that my attacks don’t use Bestia. If I can find a way to hit, I can win for sure. Then that brella’s mine!” she thought, and flared up her back.

Smokes glared at her with a crooked smirk that let his fangs show. He held his weapon with both claws like a baseball bat and began to step around her slowly, so she did the same and tried not to look away from him. She had to be wary of the river behind her, so she kept glancing back.

“Heh. The age difference is showing. I’ve had more battles in a week than you’ve had in your whole life. Give it up,” he said with a snicker.

“Nuts to this,” she said with a growl.

She bolted forward to try and tackle him, but her head met the umbrella. It didn’t hurt as hard as it looked, more like crashing into a wall covered in felt. Not painful enough to physically damage her, but painful enough that she bounced back and stumbled, where he thrust the weapon to shove her back. She coughed as she was sent rolling across the floor and stopped on her front. She was back to the river again, and glanced at it in angst.

She didn’t dwell on that, though. She charged forward, but instead of ramming herself into the umbrella again, she slid to her right to try and get around it. Smokes slammed the open umbrella onto the ground and held it forward like a shield, where he had no trouble turning to keep that shield in her way.

“Darn it, that thing,” she hissed as she skidded to a stop.

“Impenetrable defence, light enough for speed, and hard enough for a mighty offence!” he cheered.

He closed the umbrella and drew back to swing at her. The instant he did, Ruby tackled his chest and pushed him down, but he grabbed her with a claw. She clutched his chest in response, desperate not to let go of him.

“Gah, get off you- you—” he choked as he stood up. He stumbled around as he tried to yank her off him while yelling all kinds of profanity and curses, but she held tight.

All she could hear were her growls and his shouts as the surroundings blurred, while sharp pains came from her sides where his nails dug into her. Eventually she managed to breathe in for a Flamethrower, and blasted his face. He yelled and tripped back, but the force knocked her to the ground.

“Will you stop using Pokémon attacks? Gods, what is wrong with you? Bestia is no joke! How can a homeless bum like me possibly know better?” he shouted as he brushed himself off. The attack had left his scales charred. “And a fire move on a fire type, no less!”

“In case you haven’t noticed, my Flamethrower doesn’t use Bestia!” Ruby shouted as she got to her feet. His mouth hit the floor. “But even if it did, it doesn’t matter, I would still use it anyway. I need that weapon!”

“You would sacrifice the Bestia of the village just to get a weapon? What’s the point?” he gasped.

“You wouldn’t care. But more than anything in the world, I need that weapon,” she said. She flared her back again, but his arms fell to his sides loosely. He hesitantly scanned the area, and sighed. He closed his umbrella and tossed it over to her. “Huh? What’s this?”

“It’s true. All the grass and colour is still intact,” he said. He shook his head and held a claw forward. “I don’t know how in the world you did that, or what the heck is wrong with you, but if you want it that badly then fine, keep it. The Parashelter is yours. Just stick to our original trade and gimme that treasure.”

Ruby glanced at the treasure she’d dug up, a gold armlet with curious markings and curls on it. “Considering you just tried to kill me, I dunno if I should. So what’s this all about, really? You got some friends to ambush me when I walk away in a bit?”

DQIV_Armlet_Of_Transmutation.png

“I don’t have friends. Why would a homeless Pokémon like me have friends?” he said. He growled and shook his head again. “Look, Pokémon are coming! Just gimme the damn bracelet before trouble starts. You don’t want any grownups seeing you with a weapon either, do ya?”

“Tsk. You better not be lyin’ again.” She accepted the trade. The Parashelter was light enough for her to carry, and had a strap she could wrap around her waist to hang it at her side. “Huh. It is really light. A little big, but it’ll do.”

“Don’t go waving that thing around in towns and cities now, you hear? It doesn’t count as a weapon because it’s an umbrella, so inspectors should let you through,” Smokes said. He stepped back a few paces, and then turned tail. “And with that, I’ve done everything I’m required to do as an adult. You’re on your own from here, so I hope I never see you again!”

“Uh.” Ruby opened her mouth to speak, but he was off in the distance before any words came out. “O-kay? The heck was that about?”

“Ruby!” a familiar voice cried. She turned to see Crystal coming towards her, alongside the Kangaskhan she didn’t want to see and one new figure.

“Oh. That’s why he ran away.” She slumped forward.

“Are you okay? Your fur’s drenched!” Crystal cried. “You didn’t do the river training, did you?”

“I didn’t do the river training. I got er, an umbrella from some guy. Yeah. He said he wanted a treasure for it. But the treasure was in the river, so I dug it up,” she said. “But a better question is, the heck happened to you? We were in this together, then the next thing I know, ya disappeared on me!”

“O-oh, er, erm…” Crystal started playing with her flippers. “You went into the casino. Only grownups are allowed in there.”

“Yeah, but it was for the cause Crystal, the cause!” Ruby cried.

“I won’t ask what this ‘cause’ is, but I do have a concern. That treasure you said you dug up,” Kangaskhan said. Her voice was very soft and serene, which matched her stoic appearance. Despite her massive build as a bulked up and rugged Pokémon, she looked like the type that was mentally too soft to touch a Cutiefly. “It wasn’t a gold armlet by any chance, was it?”

“An armlet?” Ruby cocked her head.

“A bracelet, Ruby. An accessory you slip over your arm.” Kangaskhan said.

“Yeah it was. That’s what I found, anyway. I’ve been diving into that river for months, but I never knew there was treasure buried in it. Why didn’t you tell me?” She bounced excitedly.

“Oh dear,” Kangaskhan said, and leaned on one arm. “It’s imperative I get that back. But first, you two are coming home with me.”

“Aw what? But you better hurry, the Charmeleon who took it said he wanted to leave Lillistep. He’ll probably be gone if you don’t go after him now,” she said.

“The necklaces you two have acquired are more important. Let’s go, young miss,” Kangaskhan said. She turned to lead the way back, leaving Ruby confused.

“Necklaces?” she mumbled with a tilt of her head. She felt her chest, and there it was, an accessory she didn’t realise she was wearing until now. The sudden feel of it made her flinch and hold it up. It only had a tiny hexagon on the end, but it was chilly enough to tickle her. She looked back and forth between Crystal and herself, speechless that Crystal had one the exact same as hers. The Pokémon next to Crystal, a massive, round, bird-like Pokémon covered in white feathers with triangle markings on its belly, giggled and raised a wing. “When and how did… and who the heck’re you?”

The Pokémon put a wing to its mouth as if to hush her, and then pointed to the nursery in the village. They flew off towards it, and Crystal didn’t say anything either, so Ruby sighed and gave up.

What felt like minutes later, they were back at Lillistep Nursery. Ruby was hesitant to step in, but Kangaskhan pulled her in roughly. The place was no different to what she expected to find of it. An army of baby Pokémon that could barely speak a word scattered about a large, colourful room, doing nothing but play with whatever curious novelty took their interest. Various toys littered the place, pre-school level posters were on the walls, and a few cots lined the wall at the far end. She hated it, but not enough to flare up.

“I’m glad you came back, Crystal. You did the right thing,” Kangaskhan said.

“You sold me out?” Ruby cried.

“I didn’t! I swear, I just came back. Mum figured it out,” Crystal cried, shaking her flippers in protest.

“You didn’t have to come back here,” Ruby raised her voice.

“Don’t shout, Ruby. Shh. Indoor voices, please,” Kangaskhan said. Some of the babies gathered around her.

Ruby growled. “I don’t have to do this anymore, Suzie. I’m outta here. I’ve got a weapon and I’m strong enough to take care of myself. I’m leaving.”

“You are not going anywhere, young lady. Not while you look and smell like that. Crystal, you too. You know where the bath is,” Kangaskhan said.

“You’re not gonna make me get in, are you?” Ruby slumped.

“Of course not. Just wash that mud and damp off. And I expect you out in fifteen minutes maximum,” Kangaskhan said.

“Yes Mum.” Crystal bowed her head.

“Tsk. Whatever, Suzie. Can’t remember the last time I shared a bath with Crystal,” Ruby said with a groan. She followed Crystal to one of the side rooms, but stopped to look back at the children in the room.

“Alright everyone, it’s time to clean up. We have an important meeting to have super soon,” Suzie announced. She pointed to a trio in the corner of the room, a Mudkip, Chimchar, and Snivy. “Sapphire, Pearl, Emerald, you three are get the toys. Remember: wooden toys go in the wood box, while games go back on the shelf.”

She pointed to another group, a Pikachu, Charmander, and a Totodile. “Yellow, Red, Silver, you three are on sweep duty. Pick up all the rubbish, okay? And don’t even think about trying to eat it. Gold, Black, White, help clean up all the board games, please.”

Ruby blinked in amazement. As Suzie commanded orders like she’d recited them for years, the kids obeyed without question. The room was being transformed into an orderly hall right before her eyes. She shut her eyes and sighed.

Their washroom was fancy compared to the other spots in Lillistep. It was indoors, but it was a spring with loamy floor like the fields outside. A thick series of bamboo pipes circulated and filtered the water from the bottom and sides of the pool, where they were even labelled as hot or cold dispensers. Ruby had no idea how it worked, but it worked. Crystal had already dove into the pool, so she assumed the water would be cold and sat beside the water to clean herself off.

“So what happened, really? If you weren’t trying to sell me out, what gives?” she said. Crystal surfaced after a moment and paddled over.

“Suzie realised we were missing, so I just told her you’d gone training. But she knew I wouldn’t have taken so long if I was just checking up on you after you blew up in the chimney this morning,” Crystal said. “But get this. When we set out to look for you, an angel showed up. Me and you are legendary heroes, Ruby!”

“Legendary heroes?” she cocked her head. The big bird Pokémon from earlier suddenly popped out of Crystal’s body like a ghost. She flew through the roof like it wasn’t there, and then came down beside them with grace, where she bowed to them. “Wah! Where the heck did you come from?”

“Yep! You’ve got no idea how surprised I was to find two more heroes in one place again. If this keeps up, finding all of you is gonna be easy,” the Pokémon said. “Crystal is right. The name’s Angel, and I’m gonna be your guide for this stuff.”

“Wait wait wait, slow down a sec. Guide? Heroes? Start from the top!” Ruby cried.

“Urf, I uh, kinda don’t wanna repeat myself. Don’t you girls know about the legend of the Shining Warriors?” Angel said. Ruby and Crystal exchanged glances, and then shook their heads at her. “Never even heard of it? Huh. Okay, that makes this a little tougher, but it’s nothin’ complex. I’ll explain fully once you two meet up with the other heroes.”

“Meet up?” Ruby said. “Sorry you fat ghost. I’ve got my own plans.”

“Wait Ruby, think about it,” Crystal cried. “I know you want to get revenge for your mother, but we don’t know where that killer is. We might as well do this journey and then figure it out on the way.”

“Plus, the meetup point is only at Fossil Hill. That’s like, two regions away from here. You could get there in a couple of days if you don’t sleep,” Angel said with a wing raised.

“Wait a minute, don’t sleep?” Crystal muttered.

“Tsk. Yeah I guess that makes sense. But if this is a big chore then I’m quittin’. Killing that guy comes first,” Ruby said.

“Besides, you don’t have a choice, really. You either do the Shining Warrior journey or the whole world dies,” Angel shrugged.

“We get to sleep though, right?” Crystal muttered.

“The whole world dies? You’re just exaggerating. Whatever. So I’m guessin’ it’s your fault I got this necklace,” Ruby said, holding it up.

“Yup! Those are your amulets. You couldn’t get rid of them even if you wanted to, but keep them close and handy, anyway. They’re proof that you’re heroes. And with it, you can channel special powers, too,” Angel said.

“Special powers?” Ruby perked up.

“Oh, are you interested now?” Angel said with a half-lidded look.

“Anything to make me stronger,” she said.

“A-are we really gonna do this without sleeping, though? Strength is no good if you’re sleepy,” Crystal muttered.

“Well then, you’ll just have to get to Fossil Hill to find out. Go there and get to the highest point you can. That’s where I’m telling the other Shining Warriors to go, too. You’ll meet all at once, and then I can give you all the full low-down,” Angel said. “You’ve gotta leave like today, though.”

“I was already plannin’ on doing that, so you’ve gotta convince Suzie of that,” Ruby looked away.

“I do plan on sleeping, you know,” Crystal hung her head.

Some instinct told Ruby to keep quiet just then. There were voices muffled by the distance and walls, but their tone and volume hinted at aggression. She exchanged glances with Crystal, and then they both jumped at a loud thump. Several thumps. And then what sounded like several heavy things collapsing. The duo gasped at each other and then bolted back to the main room.

“Mum?” Ruby gasped and skidded to a stop the moment they entered. Suzie was leaned over like she had just punched someone, and there was a knight fainted halfway through the wall in front of her. Two other knights held their weapons in battle-ready stances.

“Girls!” Suzie gasped and glanced at them.

Her moment of distraction was met with sword thrust in her face. She leaned away just in time, but the knight punched her in the stomach, ignorant of the crying baby that was there. Suzie doubled over and the child toppled out of her pouch, while the knight drew back to raise their sword.

“Watch out!” Crystal cried.

Ruby foresaw what was about to happen, though. She had no idea what was going on or what had happened while they were in the wash, but what was important now was that Suzie’s life flashed before her eyes. She didn’t need another reason to bolt into action.

She didn’t flare her back, she just threw up the strongest burst of fire she could muster in the moment. A cry of shock echoed from the knight’s helmet and they recoiled. The other knight turned its attention on her and Crystal and advanced on them, where the duo shifted back.

The moment gave Suzie a chance to console her baby, but they wouldn’t stop crying. She patted the child and cradled them while still leaned over, and they nuzzled into her chest in fright. “There there now, there’s no need to worry. Everything is going to be alright.”

“Mum, pay attention!” Ruby shouted. She had to jump back to dodge the knight in front of her, who hammered their lance where she just was.

“Stay still. I don’t want to have to hurt valuable subjects like you,” the knight said. Ruby growled while Crystal cowered behind her. Ruby couldn’t turn away from Suzie’s battle behind the knight, though. The Kangaskhan continued to comfort her child, and delicately placed them back into her pouch.

“You on the other hand, you can die!” the sword knight shouted as they swung their weapon down. Crystal shrieked, but her fear was unfounded. Without looking up at the weapon, Suzie caught the blade in her bare hand.

“What?” Ruby’s eyes opened wide in disbelief.

“What the?” the knight said, held in place by Suzie’s grip. They twitched and growled to try and get away, but as long as they held their sword, they weren’t going anywhere. Suzie’s grip was so tight that she had surely cut herself, but the only evidence were her grinding fangs. “Y-you can’t be serious!”

Suzie looked up with a vicious glare. There was a feral spirit in her eyes, which shone red almost as if they had begun to glow. “I really didn’t want you girls to have to see this.”

With her grip still on the sword, she flung the knight up high and uppercut their stomach with a punch so hard it dented their armour. Then she then spun on one leg to swing her tail and strike the knight with wicked force. The knight was sent flying into the wall so hard their body tore through it like paper, where they collapsed into a silent heap.

“Ack! St-stay away!” The remaining knight stumbled back. Their legs turned to jelly and they shoved their lance forward desperately. Suzie turned on them without a pinch of mercy on her face. She snatched their lance and snapped it in two with her hands, kneed the knight in the stomach to make them stumble away, and then drew a fist back to punch them as hard as she could. Just like the first knight, their figure was sent flying into the wall, where they fell limp.

She took them out in an instant. Steel types, with her bare fists!” Ruby’s jaw was on the floor. Suzie let out a sorrowful sigh, shook herself, and then stood tall with her arms at her sides.

“They finally found us,” she muttered.

“They… found us? Huh?” Crystal came out of cowering.

“What happened? Why were they trying to kill you?” Ruby bounced angrily.

“That is a story not for your ears,” Suzie said.

“Nuts to that! You always told us to avoid the knights but you never told us why. The villagers said that the knights just protect Pokémon, so what gives? Why were they trying to kill you?” she raised her voice.

“Wait, you met the knights in the village?” Suzie said.

“I… okay, sorta. When I learnt that they protect villages and stuff, I was gonna get one of ‘em to gimme a weapon, and then they asked about the nursery, so I pointed them here,” she said. The colour drained from Suzie’s face, and her body fell even looser.

“You sold us out! So much for your end of the cause,” Crystal spat.

“Hey, I didn’t sell you out! I didn’t know they wanted to freaking kill you,” Ruby cried.

“You still did exactly what Mum told us not to do. If you’d just listened to Mum, this wouldn’t have happened,” Crystal said.

“Girls, please do not argue. In fact, now is not the time to argue,” Suzie said, getting their attention. “The retrieval of the river’s treasure, our discovery of the knights, and you girls epiphany as Shining Warriors… It appears that far more has been set in motion than I could ever have prepared for.”

“What’re you talking about?” Ruby said.

“There is little time to explain,” Suzie said as she walked to one of the broken shelves. The baby Pokémon made space for her, but their frightened and worried faces made it a wonder why they were silent. She took out a first aid bag from the broken shelf and began to bandage her hand. “Crystal. You know how you always feel like there is a reason for you to leave home? That you have the constant feeling of an underlying task you need to fulfil?”

“Ye… yes?” Crystal nodded.

“Oh, that ‘destiny’ stuff you sorta mentioned,” Ruby muttered.

“Now is the time for you to put that into practice. I know it is sudden, but I cannot hold you back any longer. You were always fated to leave this place, and I have the necessary tools for you to do so,” Suzie said. She came back from the mess with a small bag and a bow and quiver set. “Take this. It is your weapon.”

“A bow and arrow? Wa-wait a minute, why am I…?” Crystal whimpered as she held up the weapon. The quiver was packed with arrows, but some of them had been tied together by a thin rope to make a knife-like weapon. Suzie seemed to ignore her, and hung the bag over Crystal’s shoulder. She replaced Crystal’s current weapon. “How am I supposed to use this? Piplup don’t have any fingers!”

“Trust me, and trust yourself. When you leave the village, you will be attacked by feral Pokémon, the uncivilised Pokémon who know only to hunt and kill. Whenever you find yourself in danger, summon up your courage and attack them with everything you’ve got. Take care of your sister,” Suzie said.

“Oh yeah, sure. Like she has to take care of me,” Ruby rolled her eyes.

“And you, Ruby,” Suzie said.

“M-me?” she bounced in surprise.

“It is good that you have a weapon now. But if your sister is in danger, or you get attacked by another knight, I want you to breathe as much fire as you can,” Suzie said, and held a fist forward.

“Wait you… actually want me to shoot fire? You always told me to hold in my fire, what’s going on?” she gasped.

“As much fire as you can. Really set the world alight like I know you can!” Suzie pumped that fist enthusiastically. “And don’t get cocky against those knights. They aren’t like the petty criminals you read in those comics and stories. The knights will kill you even though you’re children. If you get into a fight with one, don’t stick around to fight them. Run the moment you knock them down. You can’t underestimate them enough.”

“Why can’t you just tell us what’s going on?” Ruby shouted. Suzie leaned back a bit, and then smiled warmly.

“And Ruby, thank you so much for saving me back there. I really appreciate you calling me ‘mum’ again,” she said.

“Wha-what? N-no, that wasn’t,” Ruby whispered. Her face grew hot and she rubbed her cheek. “I just did what any strong Pokémon would.”

“I’m afraid we just don’t have time. But I love you both so much,” Suzie said.

She knelt to cuddle them both together, and their breaths stopped. For whatever reason, worrisome feelings sparked in Ruby’s chest, making her shudder. Being this close to Suzie, she could tell that this Pokémon was genuine in what they were saying. Despite never seeing Suzie as her real mother and knowing that, she felt like she was in the embrace of a mother that meant as much to her as her real mother.

“Me and the other kids are going to miss you both every day. But even if you miss us, you must press on. I have to let you grow up. You’re both Shining Warriors, now,” Suzie said as she broke away. She still had that warm aura around her, making the two girls frown. “If you’re worried about us, don’t be. I set up this nursery and took care of all of you kids for nearly a decade. A little skirmish isn’t going to defeat us. But you must not let the knights find you. So go, now.”

“Mum,” Crystal said.

“Suzie,” Ruby muttered.

“Go. Get out of the village, and stay out of the view of the knights,” Suzie said. She became firm as the girls hesitated. “I mean it, go! Before more show up. Your grand, Shining Warrior journey starts here and now!”

Even Ruby couldn’t help but hesitate. She played with her forelegs and moaned about something, but when she looked up to see Suzie’s annoyed look, she forced herself to move. She grabbed Crystal by the flipper and dragged her out the door.

“Wait but Ruby!” Crystal cried, dragging her feet to slow them down. Ruby pulled until they were out of the house, where they both flinched and gasped.

There was a fire in the village, and it wasn’t a weak, controller fire like Ruby’s Flamethrower. It tore through the few buildings in the village and had a crowd of shouting Pokémon around it. Amongst the chaos, she spotted a group of four knights jogging right past the fire and in their direction.

“This way!” Ruby hissed. She dragged Crystal to the side of the house with such a violent yank that the Piplup yelped from it. From here, they could hide in a bush to spy on the knights as they barged into the nursery.

“Oh no, they’re after Mum. We’ve got to help her,” Crystal cried.

“Shh, stop it. I know what this looks like, but I think Suzie can take care of herself,” Ruby whispered sharply.

“You think? You saw one of them nearly kill her, Ruby!” she cried.

“I know, but—” Ruby huffed. She poked her head through the bush. The area was far too open to properly hide, but with the commotion, they could probably slip into the forest without anyone noticing. Ruby nodded at her thoughts, and kept a grip on Crystal’s flipper. “We have to believe in her, Crystal. This way.”

“No Ruby! Mum needs our help. This is just like the thing with you, we need to stay and fight,” Crystal pulled back.

“I wanna know what’s up with Suzie too, but whatever it is, times like this are when we just have to trust her. She gave us what we want, and we need to take it!” she said. She took one glance at the house, and shivered. “N-no matter what it takes. All for the sake of… our destinies.”

“Our… destinies?” Crystal went quiet.

“My quest to avenge my real mother, and yours, the one you’ve been having dreams about. It might be related to the Shining Warrior stuff. It hurts, it really does hurt, but we have to go,” Ruby said. “Why do I sound so desperate? Stop it Ruby, you can’t show weakness now. This is what I wanted, I get to go, I get to go!

Crystal gulped and looked like she swallowed tears behind her eyes. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Ruby shuddered as she took off, but Crystal was supportive this time. She sprinted on all fours for a while, and glanced at the distant Kecleon Shop as they passed. That was one of the places on fire, and it looked like the villagers were passing buckets to each other to put it out. The flames looked too big to be put out that way, however.

She tore her sight away and growled. “I hate this. I dunno what’s happening but I have to press on. I HAVE to press on. Just go Ruby, go!

She sped up, and this time she didn’t stop until darkness took over her surroundings. She skidded to a stop and opened her eyes wide, but it was only the trees of the forest that had darkened everything. They had entered Misgeriom Woods at last. She caught her breath as she walked, and Crystal linked hands with her.

To them, the ground went from the soft earth of cultivated fields to an erratic stretch of roots and soil. A curious smell filled the air, nothing like what she expected from such wild woodland. Misgeriom Woods didn’t have a theme to it – every single tree was a different type of tree, from palm trees, to oak, to various fruit trees, and everything in between. They still did the job of blocking the sky with their leafy tops, while their roots fought to cover as much ground as possible. As such, there was no path, only steps of mushy soil amongst various sizes of tree roots.

“U-um, Ruby? Is this the right way?” Crystal said after a while.

That got her to turn around. She couldn’t see or hear the village. She couldn’t see or hear anyone at all, for that matter. She cringed as a horrible sense of claustrophobia took over. As she slowly spun and examined her surroundings, she felt like the woodland might close in and crush her. It had her breathing shakily through her mouth. “Don’t lose it, Ruby. Damn it, what’s wrong with you, what’s wrong with you, what’s WRONG with you? Get it together, all you have to do is—

Her heart stopped for a moment and her eyes opened wide. Above them and to their right, camouflaged amongst the branches, was a huge monster. She could barely see it thanks to the darkness, but there was no mistaking it. There was something with blue and pink scales watching them. She flinched when a pair of toothy grins appeared, and the figure jumped toward them.

“Watch out!” she cried and dove into Crystal. Ruby rolled to her feet while Crystal fell face flat in the soil. Their attacker was some kind of two-headed, quadruped dragon with blue and pink scales on its lower half, while its upper half had a rough black fur coat. Its whole body was aged and dirty like it hadn’t been cleaned in years, but it didn’t smell at all.

“Breeh… heh heh heh. Ha ha ha! What a turn of luck, ‘ey?” the Pokémon’s left head said in a deep, gritty, monstrous voice.

“It is an uncharacteristically fortunate turn of events, yes,” the right head said in a posh, sophisticated voice. “For once, we agree.”

“Well it doesn’t take a genius to figure out, dumbo!” the left head said.

“A-aah! Are you the monster of the forest?” Crystal cried. Ruby didn’t say anything. She just flared up. “The monster of Misgeriom that eats lost children… it’s real!”

“Breeh. It’s like a script. Perhaps I should play along sometime and see if I’m capable of theatre,” said the left head.

“With your intelligence and patience, I’d say you have a six percent chance to succeed, even after rehearsal,” said the right head.

“Oh shuddup. I’m too hungry for this. I’m gonna eat both of them!”

“Tsk tsk tsk. That’s we, my dear Evark. We shall consume them together.”

“Na-uh. I saw them first, so that means I get all the meat,” said Evark left.

“There are two of them. We shall share the goods,” said Evark right.

“When has that ever worked? You try and talk like a gentlemon, but you always eat too much!” said Evark left.

“You pin that blame on me, despite us sharing a stomach? Have you considered eating less, my dear Evark?” said Evark right.

“Why should I eat less? How about you stop being all high and mighty and eat less?”

“Once you learn to cooperate for once, my dim-witted other half.”

The two of them started to snap and bark at each other, to which Ruby calmed down a bit. “Crystal, quick. While they’re arguing.”

“Hu-huh? Wha-what do I do?” Crystal said.

“Remember what Suzie said. Your weapon. It’s up to you to beat them. If I use Flamethrower here, I could set the forest on fire. But maybe your arrow can hit ‘em,” Ruby whispered. Crystal took out her bow and held an arrow in it, but then gulped. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m not sure, Ruby. I-I dunno the first thing about using a bow and arrow.” She shook her head.

“You just pull back on the string and then let go of the arrow, and it flies off, right? Try not to think too hard about it, just try and hit the guy. Er, guys,” she gasped, glancing back and forth.

Crystal held in a squeal, but she gave it a try anyway. She pulled the arrow back, but without fingers, her grip on the bow and arrow was shakier than a Snorunt. She squeaked as she accidentally let an arrow fly loose. Everyone flinched, and both heads of the dragon turned to her.

Crystal gasped and held her breath. Silence fell. It took a few seconds to realise that the arrow had pierced the monster’s front, a little above its right leg. Evark didn’t flinch though, even though the arrow was in pretty deep. The left head looked down at the arrow for a moment, then at its other head, and then at Crystal and Ruby.

“That’s a real arrow, isn’t it?” said Evark left.

“Yes, I believe it is,” said Evark right.

“Lodged right into my side?” said Evark left.

Our side, sir Evark,” said Evark right.

“And it’s excruciatingly painful?”

“Oh we are going to be feeling that one for the next few nights.”

Finally, the two heads roared so loud the forest around them rumbled. Their heads shook and they stomped across the floor. After a long moment of thrashing, they charged forward at wicked speed, and stopped right in front of the frightened Ruby and Crystal.

“You’ll regret that you cocky little nuisances!” both heads roared in perfect sync.

Before either of the girls could retort, Evark’s heads attempted to bite them with jaws so wide they could have been swallowed whole. The girls screamed and dove away, making the two heads bash into each other as they both targeted Crystal.

“You idiot, go after the left one!” Evark left said.

“Would that be your left or my right?” Evark right said.

“Your left! I mean, my right! I-I mean- gah, just bite things you imbecile!”

“Bite whatever moves. We’re having meat tonight!”

Evark charged again, this time towards Ruby. She screamed and shoved her umbrella in defence, but the left head chomped down on it hard. That choked him and caused the whole body to stumble, so he started to wildly bite the umbrella.

“Ah- no, get off!” Ruby pulled back before her weapon was torn to shreds. Another arrow hit him in the side and the heads roared again. They turned on Crystal, who was behind him.

“I-I’m sorry I’m sorry, I don’t mean to hurt you so bad!” she cried while Ruby ran over to her.

“You… you! Evark, they’re feisty ones!” Evark right glanced at his other half.

“That means we do what we do best, right?” Evark left glanced, too.

“Dragon Pulse!” they cheered, and planted their feet.

“Dragon Pulse?” Ruby said.

Both heads began to breathe in just like Ruby would a Flamethrower, only there were no visible flames as they leaned back and inhaled. But there was a loud hissing sound, almost like a powerful jet of flame was splitting the air.

“Girls!” a familiar voice squeaked. Angel popped out beside them. “You’ve got to get away, fast! They’re going to use a Pokémon attack. I can feel the Bestia draining from the area, and you will soon, too!”

“An actual Pokémon attack? Are you serious?” Ruby gasped, glancing back and forth.

As Evark’s charge continued, the colour began to drain from the world around them. Ruby gasped and choked as suddenly her breath was stolen from her. She couldn’t believe her eyes. The darkness of the forest, what little browns and greens she could make out, all of it swirled towards Evark’s two mouths, where it took form as a pair of sparking blue balls of fire. What was left of the colourless areas was a world of grey, as if everything Evark was absorbing was turning to stone.

What?” Ruby gasped in her head, and fell on all fours. As the grey spread over her and Crystal, her energy seemed to drain from her. In seconds, she became a gasping wreck that could barely lift her head. She growled as she tried to force herself to get out of the way, but it was no good. Everything became muffled and blurry – Angel and Crystal’s shouts and struggles, the forested scenery, and even Evark and his attack.

The last thing she saw was a large blurry ball surrounded by faded grey before she fell flat, and everything turned black.
 
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Shelly Episode 1: The Blooming Boy

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Shelly complete - Copy.png

Shelly Episode 1: The Blooming Boy



“Sheeelly? Oh Sheeelly? Oh, where has that laddie gone off to now?” a Steenee called out in a sing-song tone.

She walked down the brightly lit hall in quick but frequent steps, careful of the armoured grass type Pokémon on patrol. The corridors of this place were every bit as royal as a palace, but their walls, floor, and ceiling were made entirely out of glass. That made everything humid and sunny hued, but the Pokémon were used to it.

“Princess Elise?” a Vileplume called out. She had a long lance, and tapped it on the floor. “Mind us lancers, we’re on patrol in this area. If you’re lookin’ for Shelly, some of the guards were saying they saw him heading for the lookout.”

“Of course he’d be there. Alright, thanks,” Steenee said cheerfully.

She skipped along while humming to herself. Ignorant of the warning she’d just been given, Chespin soldiers, Bellossom maids, and Dartrix butlers slid out the way or curtsied to her as she passed, but she didn’t spare them so much as a glance. Every single Pokémon here was a grass type refined by the environment. Roselia were taller, Bayleef were built like they had muscles, the Vileplume were giants, and more.

She didn’t even stop for the guards stood outside the lookout area. She pushed right past them, barged the double doors open, and then skipped to the edge of the balcony. “Shelly, oh Shelly?”

There he was, asleep on his back in the corner by the doors. This kid was an Oshawott shorter than her who wore a headband adorned with a water drop pattern. There was a bright green leaf attached that flopped over his nose.

“Aww, you’re so cute sleeping out here! But sorry honey bunch, I’m gonna have to wake you,” she said, rubbing him. He groaned, stretched, and rubbed his eyes. “There you are. World to Shelly, nature’s calling! You awake yet?”

The Oshawott stared at her with a groggy, half-lidded look. She giggled and straightened his leaf so that it was out of his face. “Silly lad. You don’t remember what today is, do you?”

He replied with a yawn, and she pouted. “Aww c’mon, Shelly! What kind of husband forgets his own birthday?”

“Birthday?” He jumped. His voice was feminine and young, just a little lower pitched than hers.

“Yeah, don’t you remember? You finally hit fifteen. Mama’s got something special to give you this time,” Steenee giggled. She curtsied and grabbed his hand. “So what’re we still doing sleeping up here? Let’s go!”

“Elise, I er… wa-wait. Sorry,” he whined. He stretched again. “S-sorry. I think I slept really badly. It’s been so sunny lately. It’s just making me really sleepy.”

“Well, I don’t blame you. We’ll take it slow, then. As long as we get to hold hands, I’m happy,” she said.

Shelly wasn’t sure about that, but the leaf on her arm glowed a pleasant green, just like his. “You really are happy.”

“I’m happy as long as you’re around, Shelly. I hope that never changes, too. I love you so much!” She nodded in glee, and then they were off. “You’re not hungry are you?”

“I’m fine. Just so sleepy,” he gurgled.

“Ugh, I can’t do all of this myself. Wake up already!” she pouted.

“I am I am, sorry,” he said, and rubbed his eyes again. He fixed his headband so that it went over one ear and under the other. Then he noticed Elise was a little dressed up today, with her own glittery yellow dress and a large ribbon bow on her back. She had an armband to hold a leaf the same way as his headband held one. She carried weapons, too: a short sword and a one-handed shield shaped like an Oshawott’s scalchop.

“Do you have your Treasure Orb? Mama said you’ll need it.” Elise noticed him eying her weapons.

“Yeah… I keep it around.” He tapped at his sides to realise he left his little pouch behind.

A backtrack and a side trip later, and they were at the throne room. There was an unusual number of guards around for the occasion, alongside banners, balloons, and other typical celebration décor. The guards curtsied before letting them in, where columns of Servine and Breloom curtsied as they passed. A Tsareena was sat in the throne with one leg over the other, and gave them a gleeful look when they came close.

“I brough him, Mama! Just in time, too,” Elise said.

“Thank you, Elise. Welcome, you two,” Tsareena said. “And happy birthday, my son. I apologize that it couldn’t be fancier. Things tied us up a bit this year, and to tell the truth, I’m afraid you might’ve started growing out of surprise parties.”

Shelly shook his head and put his hands together. “It’s okay. I’m more excited about why you called us here. Is something special happening?”

“Oh Shelly, you’re so modest! You are the special one today. Ask your servants for whatever you want for dinner, and don’t hold back on snacks, either. Today is your cheat day, as we call it!” Tsareena said in glee. “But yes, there was the matter of your all-important present. Two things that will hopefully last you your entire life. Bring it in, everyone!”

Shelly and Elise were confused as the giant throne room doors flew open once again, this time coupled with grand bagpipes and a few confetti cannons. A trio of Whimsicott wrapped in scarves across their bodies slowly escorted a Wigglytuff, and presented them with a twirl and a curtsy.

“This here is Kusha. She’s a fighter from the foreign land of Heroica. Shelly, she’ll be serving as your personal retainer from this day forward,” Tsareena said, and sat forward.

“Thank you Queen Gladys,” Kusha replied, and bowed.

The moment that Wigglytuff spoke, Shelly froze. He had never seen or heard a Pokémon quite like her before, and he didn’t know what to think. Her balloony shape, bright eyes, easy colours, and adult voice confused him on multiple levels. The leaf on his head flashed a shade of dark pink for a moment, then blue, and then became a dim green. “Uh, erm…”

“It’s an honour to serve you, Prince Shelly. I hope I can do well to tend to your needs,” she said.

He wasn’t sure right away whether he liked her or not. Her tone felt inviting to an affectionate degree, but with a sense of authority, and her being way taller than him only further ground that point. Add in the huge axe strapped to her back, and he knew his days here would never be the same with her around. He knew not to be rude though, and responded with a happy nod and smile.

“Aww what? That’s unfair, why does Shelly get a retainer before I do?” Elise pouted.

“Now now Elise, this is an important day for you both, and Shelly especially. We are still working on finding a Pokémon to serve you, and your sixteenth birthday is later on this year. You could learn a thing or two about patience from Shelly,” Gladys said. Elise puffed up her cheeks and folded her arms.

“If I may say, I don’t mind tending to you both as long as demands are kept within reason. As long as you’re married, it just makes sense to,” Kusha said with a smile.

“You will? Yay!” Elise cheered. “Don’t worry, I won’t hog you. Just try not to hog Shelly, too.”

“If at any point you’d like to redact that, we will not complain. Don’t take advantage of her now, you two. And treat her with respect. Kusha is here to serve you, but also to look after you. We specifically chose her because of her fighting prowess,” Gladys said, and put a leg over the other. The group looked up at her in interest. “Your other present is the lifting of one of your restrictions. From today forth, you two are free to leave the Greenhouse Palace.”

“We can leave?” Elise squeaked, while Shelly gasped.

“I suggest you familiarize yourself with the rest of Van Aken. Talk to the residents, explore the island, and learn things first-hand. I understand that may seem like work, but I think you’ll enjoy it. You’re at the age where you can take care of yourselves on the outside, but Kusha is still here to back you up should something ever happen,” Gladys said. Even though her mouth was hidden behind that purple mask, it was clear she was smiling. And that brought a bright smile to Shelly’s face, too.

“Isn’t that great? We can finally leave the palace and stuff!” Elise threw her arms up. “Shelly! The first thing we gotta do is have a picnic. I’ve always wanted to have a picnic in the fields with you!”

“I want to see everywhere, too. I can finally see what’s behind those hills I can see from the lookout,” he said. His eyes gleamed as he thought of the possibilities. “We can get close to the ocean. And go to the village. And all that stuff behind the palace, too! Like that really cool foggy mountain—”

“Er, hold on there. The places behind the palace… aren’t for you.” Gladys leaned forward in her throne. “Those remain off-limits to you. Especially the misty region. Stay well away from there, please. And don’t even think about divin’ into the sea, either. There’s no beaches around here, so the sea will be rough and just wash you away. On top of that, we’ve got no control of the feral Pokémon in that area. It is much too dangerous for a bairn your age.”

“Aww.” Shelly slumped.

“There’s still lots of stuff we can do. Let’s go right now.” Elise grabbed his hand. He laughed and ran with her, but they were stopped by the trio of Whimsicott from earlier.

“Can’t let you do that I’m afraid, prince,” said one of the Whimsicott.

“Tsk. Royalty are this rude?” Another Whimsicott shook her head.

“A spoiled child like you is about to learn a serious lesson,” said the third Whimsicott.

“Huh? What’re you doing? Please excuse us,” Elise said.

“A Pokémon as weak as you would not last a day on the island,” said the first Whimsicott.

“As if that is your judgement? Get out of the way this instant,” Gladys said.

“No can do, Your Highness. We must teach your children an invaluable lesson about life,” said the second Whimsicott. The three of them slid one foot in front of the other, and they began to hop on the spot. Their light bodies made for an erratic rhythm.

“O-oh no, are you going to fight us?” Shelly stumbled back.

“Van Aken is a harsh island. A weak, ignorant prince and princess like you has no business there,” said the first Whimsicott as she revealed a wire whip from behind her scarves.

“Since the queen is foolish enough to believe you will treat our Pokémon well…” The second one revealed their whip.

“We’ll have to put you in your place!” said the third as it joined its allies.

“Are you serious?” Elise gasped. All she had to do was swipe her arms across her back and her sword and shield were equipped. “Are you spies? This is such a silly reason to fight.”

“Somehow, I doubt they’re going to tell us the real reason, if there is one. Stay safe, you two,” Kusha floated in front of them. All shelly could do was make nervous noises and stumble back.

“You don’t need to worry about us. We do training for real battles,” Elise said.

“Your training will be nothing like the real thing. Let’s get ‘em, girls!” one of the Whimsicott said, and her allies cheered.

All three whips were thrown at the spot where Elise was stood, so she hopped back to avoid them, but then the Whimsicott were off. They skipped into the air and swarmed around the trio, twirling with their jumps so that their scarves and whips twisted around them.

They were fast enough to become blurry, so the trio stood in place and focused. Shelly hid himself behind Elise and whimpered, however. He couldn’t see the Whimsicott properly, but he could hear the snaps of their whips and their ghostly giggles. He sniffled and held back tears as his leaf gave off a purple glow.

They’re going to get hurt… they’re actually going to hurt me!” he cried in his mind. Similar phrases repeated as his focus fixed on the battle. He couldn’t see or hear Queen Gladys or the other soldiers. To him, the scenery became totally black, while the only Pokémon were the Whimsicott, Elise, Kusha, and himself.

His breaths gradually grew frantic as their childish giggles echoed more and more. There was only one way out of this, and that was to brave their whips and fight back. Who knew how much they would hurt? They were sharp and made of wire, so they would surely wound him, too. He couldn’t deal with that, even if he won. And so he shivered and shrunk ever further, on the verge of screaming and crying at the top of his voice.

One of the Whimsicott eventually stopped and cracked its whip towards Elise, who shouted and thrust her sword at it fast. She couldn’t cut it, and the weapon wrapped tight around her arm. “Argh, what?”

“Elise!” Kusha cried as she was pulled forward. Shelly’s heart jolted so hard it hurt, and his eyes glazed over in the moment.

However, the Steenee didn’t trip and fall over. She stumbled and pulled back hard enough to stop in place, and then leapt toward the enemy. Whimsicott gasped before her foot met its face, where she then spun to kick Whimsicott away with her other leg.

In the moment of attack, Kusha had made her move. She hopped up high and spun with her axe out wide, and struck the other Whimsicott while they were surprised. A moment later, Kusha and Elise had the three Whimsicott bowing before them. Just as Elise was about to go off on a rant, slow claps got their attention.

“Forgive me for the cheeky challenge, but bravo. An unexpectedly efficient takedown,” Gladys said.

“H-huh?” Shelly whispered. Reality slowly returned to him, but he was still shivering.

“Mama?” Elise cocked her head.

“I had a few of our soldiers pretend to be villains to test you and Kusha. There’s not much danger in Van Aken, but I still had to know you were capable of takin’ care of yourselves,” she said. “You’ve done very well. I won’t hold you two longer. Go out and have fun!”

“Really, Mama? Way to slow us down,” Elise said. She noticed Shelly catching his breath, and put her hands on her hips. “You okay, honey?”

It took him a moment to look up. He still felt jittery, but one glance at Gladys and he forced himself to stop. “I-I’m good. Way to go, Elise.”

“Yeah, easy as pie is how it goes, right? Let’s get going before the day’s over,” she said, and dragged him away.

“Wait for me!” Kusha called out as she gave chase. She inhaled to inflate herself a little bit, and then skipped through the air similarly to the Whimsicott.

A little while after they left, Gladys sat back, sighed, folded her arms, and crossed one leg over the other. “I fear for my plans…”

“Your Highness?” a Breloom responded.

“Elise is something else. But Shelly, the wee lad’s softer than a sponge. I wonder if he’ll be able to do what we need him to do when the time comes?” she said.

“Well he is a male water type. I won’t claim to be familiar with the species, but I’m sure they mature far later than we grass types,” Breloom said. “I say that because training goes well. Truly, he isn’t far behind Elise in terms of skill.”

“So we need to bring that out in a real situation? Is that what you’re saying?” She uncrossed her legs.

“Would you have us set something up?” Breloom said.

“Observe from a distance for now. We can’t have Kusha feeling uncomfortable.” Gladys sat back and sighed again. “Two foreigners is dangerous enough as it is.”

Back with Shelly and Elise, the duo had slowed down when they got closer to the front of the palace. They had so little reason to go here that things already looked unfamiliar. The way the greenery levelled, from wild foliage to flat fields of flowers, almost looked inconvenient for the palace. But they could see other grass types in the fields.

“Excuse us please. Let us through!” Elise shouted. The guards at the front jumped, but to Shelly’s surprise, they didn’t question them. They moved aside and let them through.

“We’re really allowed out…” Shelly whispered, and his leaf grew purple. He had to shield his eyes from the sun as it gleamed through the clouds for a moment, and then slowed to a complete stop.

Fields and hills to the left, a colourful forest to the right, and a village directly ahead. Each of those landmarks was a march away, separated by huge stretches of shimmering grassland and the occasional farmland.

“I can actually go here,” he whispered again. He had seen all this many times before from the lookout, but being out amongst it all was invigorating. The way the grass tickled his feet, and the sun’s heat felt natural rather than amplified by the greenhouse’s glass, it made his heart race.

“Yeeee, I’m so excited!” Elise cheered. “Where do you wanna go first? Where should we have our picnic, Shelly?”

“Me? Our picnic…” he muttered. “You’re asking me?”

“Yeah, of course! Wake up ya silly potato!” She put her hands on her hips. “Hee hee, you’re the one who has to eat the most. So you should take the pick. Aren’t you hungry?”

He hesitated. He hadn’t thought about it, but now that he was, he felt like he could eat a Zubat. “I-I guess. I really want to explore, though. I want to try so many things.”

“A suggestion.” Kusha got their attention. “You two have never been outside of the palace, right?”

“Never. Mama wanted us to be warriors before we could. That’s why this is so exciting!” Elise threw her arms up.

“Why don’t you try the village first? You can get a meal you’ve never had before, and have that,” Kusha said.

“Try new food? That’s a good idea.” Shelly nodded. His leaf finally returned to its green glow, but switched to its bluish purple the moment Elise walked behind him.

“Well then, lead the way wee warrior. I’m pretty sure it’s already the afternoon,” she said with a giggle.

“Wha? Why do I have to lead? I don’t know where I’m going!” he cried.

“Neither of us know where we’re going, that’s the point! But if we’re going to the village, ain’t it just the plot of houses down there?” she said.

“Er, I-I think,” he said, prodding the tips of his hands together.

“Only one way to find out. Let’s go!” she cheered again. He groaned but gave in, and marched.

The whole time, he kept his hands together or wrapped around himself. No matter where he looked, everything was green grass. The grass leading from the palace and across a few of the hills seemed to be shorter than those of the fields in the other areas, almost as if someone had intentionally trimmed it to make a road of sorts.

It was soft and easy to walk on, but the grass away from that makeshift road was taller than Elise. He walked as far away from that as possible and expected one of the supposed feral monsters to jump out at any moment. A little while into their walk and the grass beside them ruffled loudly.

“Waah!” Shelly shifted back. Elise instinctively stood guard over him, ready to pull her sword and shield at a moment’s notice. But after a moment, the rustling died down.

“It’s only the wind. There is no one there,” Kusha said.

“Aww. Were you scared, Shelly?” Elise said.

He realised he was leaning on her behind and shifted back with a blush. “N-no!”

“Your Gospel Vibe is purple,” she sung.

“Aww, Elise,” he whined.

“Hee hee hee. It’s a okay, really! You don’t need to be scared as long as I’m around. I won’t ever let you get hurt. I’ll protect you with everything I’ve got!” she said. He slowly stood back up. “What kinda wife would I be if I didn’t?”

“And it is my job to provide protection for you both. You won’t need to get your hands dirty,” Kusha said.

“What does that mean?” Elise said, resuming their trip. Shelly held out a hand to question that he wasn’t leading, but quickly retracted with a sigh of relief. “Fighting doesn’t make my hands dirty.”

“It’s way of wording things. I mean that as long as I am your retainer, you will never need to fight,” Kusha said. Shelly watched her leisurely float along with them with a hand on his lip. Her feet never touched the ground once.

“Aww but that’s unfair. How am I supposed to protect my Shelly if you’re the one doing all the fighting? I’m strong enough that I don’t need protecting, y’know,” Elise said.

“It doesn’t matter. As long as it is my job and as long as you are royalty, it is my duty to put my life on the line to the bitter end,” Kusha said. “That said, I must admit I’m impressed. Your parry of the Whimsicott earlier was remarkable. And your determination to protect Shelly is admirable, too.”

“You talk really funny, you know that? Why do you talk like that?” she said.

“I don’t talk… oh, wait,” Kusha said.

“You talk funny! Your words sound nothing like ours. And you say stuff slow, too,” she said, hands on her hips.

I was wondering that, too. Her way of talking’s nothing like the Pokémon in the palace.” Shelly cocked his head.

“You’ve never met anyone from another island, have you?” Kusha asked.

Elise put her hands on her hips. “Hello? We’ve never left the palace. I’ve never seen any other Pokémon outside of books and paintings.”

Kusha slowed to a stop. “Truly? Not even visitors?”

“We’re not allowed in the room when visitors come to the palace,” Shelly said. There was a long pause.

“Well, to me, you’re the ones talking weirdly. Pokémon on Heroica speak very differently to the Pokémon here. That’s called an accent,” Kusha said.

“Pokémon outside talk different? All of them?” Shelly said.

“It depends on where they’re from. What part of the world, and where they grew up. I’d say you two have a Van accent, while others would say I have Vilé accent.” Kusha smiled. “It’s interesting to hear all the different ways Pokémon can talk, but make sure not to laugh or joke about it, though. That’s immature.”

“Kusha, have you travelled a lot?” Shelly asked.

“I’ve been here and there. You tend to get to places when you grow up strong. Her Highness is right about that,” Kusha said, and resumed their trip. Shelly’s face brightened though, and his Gospel Vibe turned green.

“You look super strong. Tell me about the places you’ve been to, please? I really want to know!” He bounced.

“Well with your interest, wouldn’t it be more exciting to go there yourself?” she said.

“Please?” he whined.

She giggled, and her ears flicked. “O-okay, settle down, I will. They’re long stories though, so should we get a move on to the village and settle down first? We can talk over your picnic.”

“Hey, don’t try and invite yourself! Shelly’s mine. It’s our picnic, you were never invited!” Elise shoved her way between them.

“Oh I didn’t intend to take over your show. But if you do want to hear those stories, I’m happy to tell them,” Kusha said.

“Aww, Elise. Don’t you want to know, too?” Shelly whined again.

“Well I d-do, but… oh stop moaning laddie! We’ll find them out ourselves when we get out there,” she said.

“But Mama said we’re not allowed to leave the island. We’re only allowed around here,” Shelly said, going quiet. With all this chatter and marching, they had reached the village.

“That doesn’t mean we’re never gonna get to go out and see the rest of the world. We’re going to do that one day, you and me,” she said. She stopped and stood in his way. “You remember that promise, right?”

“Promise?” He began to sweat a little.

“We’ll talk about it in a bit. For now though,” she said, and looked up at the buildings.

The village was bigger than it appeared from the distance. It was more like a collection of giant hollowed tree stumps and large trees than a traditional village. Coastal winds ruffled treetops and brushed along the grassy paths like a wave, while general chatter and laughter came from all sides. It was so hot that it burned, yet the Pokémon went about their business unaffected.

Shelly and Elise stumbled in with confused expressions as liveliness took over. Bayleef stood behind stools selling items. A Lurantis marched while whistling a tune, which directed a number Fomantis after her. A group with Leafeon, Roserade, Leavanny, and Deerling strutted along pridefully, chatting aloud to each other. No matter where they looked, peppy Pokémon were all around.

“Look out below!” someone called out. Before they could discern where it came from, a Ferroseed plonked in front of Shelly, making him squeak and fall back with a scream. The others flinched, but could only stare as the little steel type stared and blinked back. It was halfway buried in the ground.

“Sorry about that! I warned the wee ones about rolling when they’re up high!” the voice called out again. They looked up to find a treehouse overhead, though it was so high up that the sun made it hard to look at. A Ferrothorn slowly crawled down to greet them. “C’mon back up here you troublemaker. You’re gonna hurt someone if you do that again!”

Elise giggled a little as the Ferroseed began to roll away. A Simisage carried her back up the tree. “There’s so many Pokémon I’ve never seen before. They look so cool and funny.”

“Shelly, are you okay?” Kusha asked. He was still shivering on the floor.

“U-uh, e-erm, y-y-yes, I-I’m okay,” he said, scrunching himself up.

“Oh no… did you pee?” Elise put a hand to her chin.

He shot to his feet and his face turned bright red. “A-aah! N-no, no I didn’t!”

She giggled again. “Okay, that’s good. Let’s stop sitting like lemons and get this picnic on. You must be starving!”

“E-even if I did, please don’t announce it,” Shelly whimpered quieter than a Whismur.

“What do you wanna get? Remember, it’s all your pick!” she said.

He felt a little ignored there, but her cheerful look calmed him down. She was better off not harping on about it, anyway. “Aren’t you going to pick something, too?”

“You’re the birthday laddie. It’s all you!” she said. She tucked her hands behind her and danced a little. “Seriously. I’m good. Whatever you want to eat, I’ll be happy with!”

“You two might want to try and decide quickly, too,” Kusha said.

“Huh?” Shelly responded, and then realised. The Ferrothorn and Simisage were still there staring at him. Several Pokémon had stopped what they were doing to stare and chatter amongst themselves, too. “U-uh, why are they?”

“You’re a water type wearing a Gospel Vibe. There’s only one Pokémon you could be to them,” Kusha said. She had a sneaky smile on her face the whole time.

“Oh yeah, right. We’re popular because we’re the prince and princess, Shelly! It’s the first time all these Pokémon have seen us, too,” Elise said, getting even jumpier.

“D-do they have to stare, though? I might have something on my face!” Shelly scrunched himself up. His leaf turned bright blue.

“Aww Shelly, they won’t bite you, hee hee,” Elise said. “Hey everyone! This is our first time here. Won’t you show us around?”

“I had heard that Queen Gladys’ daughter had been married. Is this really him? Are you truly Princess Elise?” A Leafeon asked.

“That’s me. And yep, my husband’s a water type Oshawott. Prince Shelly! C’mon, stop being shy laddie,” Elise said, and pulled him over.

“Don’t crowd around now. We’re busy Pokémon,” Kusha spoke above them.

Shelly laughed awkwardly and tried his best to look at them all, but couldn’t manage better than a few glances. “Oh no… I don’t want to answer questions. Or maybe they want me to do something really smart and noble. I can’t do that… I can’t hear them all either, there’s too many Pokémon talking, I…

He whimpered a bit and put his hands to his face. Breathing through his mouth, he tried to look as okay in front of these Pokémon as he could. All he could tell was that there were voices and excitement all around him, more than he had ever experienced in one place before. He couldn’t tell a word any of them said, not even Elise as she happily replied and shook hands with the villagers. He felt woozy and weak, and stumbled back a bit.

He expected to fall to the floor again, but instead, he fell into one of the most comfortable, cushiony feelings ever. He froze there, felt with a hand, and then twisted to look up. “Kusha…”

“Are… are you okay?” she asked, a little flustered. Somehow, he heard her on top of the crowd.

This felt strange, though. Unlike anything he had ever felt before. He rested on her side, and after a moment, he didn’t want to get off. As long as he felt her light, plushie surface, he felt like he was okay. She allowed him to and bent forward to pull one of his hands away, but he held it.

Elise can handle this.” He relaxed and sighed. She looked happy with all the attention, and the Pokémon looked happy with her, and that was enough for him.

He turned his attention to the edge of the town, where he could just about see the ocean from this angle. But he noticed a gleam above it. A blue flare that blended with blue of the sky, only visible thanks to the clouds. But it grew bigger and bigger, like a flame was headed straight towards them. He stood up and forwards, and then grew nervous when he recognised it as a flame.

“U-um, guys?” he said. Nobody heard him. “Er, Kusha?”

“What’s wrong?” She looked down at him with a motherly smile.

“Can’t you see that? Shouldn’t we move? There’s fire? F-fire!” he gasped, pointing at it.

“Fire?” the Leafeon said, and then the crowd turned to where he was pointing. However, none of them moved.

“Guys?” Shelly shrieked. The flame was so close that they had seconds to react.

“There’s nothing there, though.” Elise cocked her head.

“Elise!” he shouted as he dived into her. A moment later, the flame crashed to the ground with a deafening boom. The crowd cried out in surprise as a heavy wind blasted against them, but nobody was hurt.

“Sh-Shelly?” Elise said quietly. He dared to open his eyes after a moment, finding his face very close to hers. She had a deep blush, but was surprised.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

She took a moment to respond, but her eyes glistened. “Y-yeah, but, wha?”

“What was that?” he said as he got up to check.

There was a small mound where the flame had landed, but in its place was a Togekiss with its head buried in the ground. The Togekiss glowed like the flames for a moment, and then dimmed to its normal colours.

“What was that? Are you two alright?” Kusha gasped as she leapt over. Shelly moved to say something, and then flinched hard when Kusha jumped straight through the Togekiss to reach him. “I can’t see any airborne Pokémon, and no Bestia seems to have been used. What kind of attack could that have been?”

“But it’s,” Shelly whispered. He was fixated on the Togekiss as it struggled to pull itself free, and froze completely when it did.

“Gosh, way to stick the landing, Angel. Urgh. Such a far flight for just one hero. This better be worth it,” she said. She searched left and right, and then brightened up when she locked eyes with Shelly, who shifted back and put an arm in front of his friends. “There you are! You’re in a convenient place right now. You ready to set off now too, or?”

“To… set off?” He raised an eyebrow.

“Yeah! Your necklace. Y’know, the Shining Warrior legend,” Angel said in a singsong tone. Shelly warily put a hand to his chest and flinched when he suddenly felt a necklace there. The amulet was familiar to him, too. He gasped, shuddered, and stared at Angel with a look of fright. “Hey c’mon, don’t gimme that look. Geez, I can’t believe only one of ya’s excited to be a warrior.”

“Wait Shelly, where did you get that? Wait, isn’t that?” Elise said, going quiet.

“It… it is,” he breathed out, and glanced back and forth. “Wait, where’s your one?”

“I don’t have one. Did that literally just happen right now? Were you just chosen as a Shining Warrior just like that?” Elise gasped.

“Oh er, disclaimer: nobody but you can see or hear me, kiddo. Sorry about makin’ everybody freak out with the crash landin’. I didn’t actually really realise other Pokémon were around,” Angel said with a laugh, and scratched the back of her head. “Big mission for ya though, and you’ve gotta go real soon ‘cos it’s a doozy. Ya gotta get to a place called Fossil Hill. That’s where the other Shining Warriors are.”

“Me? Just me?” Shelly said.

“Yep. Just you. The others are already on their way there, and you’re the furthest away and the last to leave, so you’ve gotta get going right now. Like, right right now,” she said, and pointed at him.

Shelly glanced at Elise and Kusha, and then at Angel. “I don’t get it. Why me?”

“Um, Shelly… you’re talking to yourself a bit,” Elise said quietly.

He gasped. The other Pokémon were staring at him again, so he went bright red. “U-um, can we get some time alone, please?”

“What just happened? Is this the christening of a Shining Warrior?” Ferrothorn gasped. The crowd started to chatter amongst themselves, so Kusha stood in front of them.

“Oh good, you’re already familiar with the legend and all. Yep, you’re the only one. The other five warriors are already on their way to Fossil Hill,” Angel said.

Shelly looked down and moaned a bit. “Er, I don’t think I can go right away.”

“There’s no buts or ‘I think’s’. You have to go or the whole world dies!” Angel cried.

“I-I know but… Elise,” he muttered, sounding like he was going to cry.

“Shelly, is there a Pokémon I can’t see?” Elise raised her voice.

“If I’m reading this right… the Shining Warriors were said to have an angelic guide that’s invisible to normal Pokémon. If neither of us were chosen but Shelly was, that means we have a bit of a predicament on our paws,” Kusha said. “This is quite a first day on the job.”

“And a first day out of the palace, too. Hey Shelly, go tell her to give me an amulet. I deserve to be a Shining Warrior, too!” Elise bounced on the spot. “That would be so cool and romantic… the two of us, world-saving heroes. Oh Shelly, let’s do this!”

He glanced at her and Angel, and moaned. “I don’t think we can. Sh-she’s telling me to go to some place called Fossil Hill right away. I-I dunno what to do!”

“Fossil Hill? Is it urgent?” Kusha said.

Very urgent,” Shelly repeated after Angel.

“Having you leave right away would create too many questions. And if this is a world-saving journey, then I recommend we return to the palace. Queen Gladys should help you get more equipped, and can probably shed more light on the whole thing,” Kusha said.

“Hello, what about me? Where’s my amulet? Let me be a hero, too!” Elise raised her voice.

“She said you can’t get one because they’ve already been chosen,” Shelly said.

“What? That’s not fair, that’s not right. You’re my husband, I can’t let you go on a big, dangerous journey on your own and stuff. We’re supposed to do everything together,” she cried.

“Princess Elise, if I may,” Kusha said, and held Shelly’s hand. “This is a rather serious issue right now. We’ll sort things back at the palace.”

She grumbled something and puffed out her cheeks, and then gasped when the duo walked off like that, holding hands. She glanced at her own hands, then at the duo, and frowned. “Shelly, you’re…”







“And then Shelly wound up with that necklace. Proven, a Shining Warrior amulet,” Kusha finished explaining. They were back in the throne room from their short trip to the village. The moment they mentioned the Shining Warriors, they had Gladys’ full attention.

Shelly and Elise were quiet and their Gospel Vibes were purple, Shelly’s a deeper glow than hers. From what he could tell, Gladys mostly stared at him, and the fact that she didn’t emote the slightest meant only bad things were going to come of this. He knew from experience.

“The Shining Warriors were said to have an angel for guidance that only they can see. Are they there? Did they tell you what to do?” Gladys said.

Everyone turned to Shelly after a moment, who beamed up. “E-er, the Angel said to go to a place called Fossil Hill really urgently because that’s where the other Shining Warriors are. I don’t know where that is, though.”

“I have been there before, Your Highness. It is a place on Heroica. Escorting Shelly there would be a very easy task—” Kusha said.

“That’s enough, I’ve heard enough,” Gladys said with a hand up. She sighed and shook her head. “This is frustrating. Very frustrating. This might just turn out to be the worst day or my life.”

“Your Highness?” A Breloom soldier said.

“Shelly, Elise, I hereby revoke your freedom to explore Van Aken. You’re once again confined to the palace, effective immediately,” she said.

“Wha-what? Wait a minute, what’d I do?” Elise said while the others gasped. Even the soldiers looked surprised.

“No ifs or buts. It’s for the best,” she said.

“Your Highness, if I could beg you to reconsider—” Kusha stepped forward.

“Are you challenging me?” Gladys raised her voice. Kusha stuttered for a moment, and then stood down. “Some very dangerous and important changes are going to happen around here, and they’re going to start very soon. But I need you both here. More than anything, I need you both.”

“Mama!” Elise cried.

“Elise, stop it. You’re not leaving anymore and that’s final. Especially not for that silly little fairy tale!” Gladys slammed a fist on the side of her throne. “If you’ve nothing else to report, then you can get out. I have business to deal with. Loads more thanks to this.”

“Huurg. Mama, you’re bein’ real stinky right now!” Elise pouted out of the room. Shelly hesitated to say something, but Kusha patting his head made him hesitate, so he followed her out.

The trio headed back to Shelly’s room as that’s where Elise stormed off to, and once there, all they could do was sit at the door while the Steenee ranted and stomped about in a stroppy tantrum. Seeing as she wasn’t going to calm down, Shelly sighed quietly and sat on his little dog bed.

“Yeah I know, I get it, this sucks. But you’re gonna have to do something,” Angel’s voice came out before she appeared from his amulet. “I wonder why the big girl decided to lock you up? I woulda thought a queen would jump at the chance for her son to be a hero.”

“It must be because I’m not a knight yet,” he said.

“And when is that? When you’re a grumpy, forty-year old Samurott? The planet’s not gonna wait that long!” Angel cried. She flew back into his amulet, but her voice still came out loud and clear. “Find a way to convince her, or sneak your way out or somethin’. I don’t care which, you can’t stay here!”

“Because we’re not knights? That’s no reason to lock us back in the palace. And on your birthday, too. Mama’s being a right dobber right now! Urgh!” Elise pulled at the petals on her head.

“Er, now now, let’s not resort to language. I’m not a mother myself, but I can understand her worry a bit. Royalty live very lonely lives, so it’s not uncommon for them to be overprotective of their children. When she says she needs you, I’m sure it’s because she loves you too much to risk letting you go out into danger,” Kusha said.

“But the Shining Warrior stuff is to save the whole world! If we don’t do this, the whole world’s gonna die or something, right? She can’t love us more than the whole world,” Elise said.

“Actually, she can. If something happened to Shelly and he was no longer around, your whole life would never be the same again, would it?” Kusha said. Elise raised a hand, but no words came. Her Gospel Vibe changed colour, too. “It must be the same for her. If her only children got hurt and never returned, her whole world would be over. And I don’t know if this is news to you, but the last set of Shining Warriors actually failed their quest. That’s why nobody can use their Pokémon attacks.”

“They did?” Elise gasped.

“As impressive as your skill with the sword is, it can’t be emphasized how dangerous the quest is. I’m sure even you would be hard pushed to your limits.” Kusha nodded. Shelly slumped in his bed and moaned a bit, making Kusha giggle. “I don’t mean to scare you or anything, Shelly. You have to go regardless, yes?”

“Actually, I’m just getting famished,” he said. His stomach rumbled loudly in agreement.

“Ah, I almost forgot! Our picnic got totally interrupted. Kusha, go get Shelly food! Shelly honey, what do you want?” Elise bounced over to him.

“I don’t care anymore. Apple stuff sounds good,” he said.

“I’ll be back soon, then. Don’t you go do anything sneaky now, you two,” Kusha said, and hurried out.

Silence fell for a moment, besides Elise making nervous sounds. The sun was setting, so things were starting to get a shaded hue over them and the heat had dulled a lot. She sat beside his bed and kept sneaking glances at him, expecting him to say something.

“You’re too hungry to be upset about all this, aren’t you?” she eventually asked.

“Upset?” he said.

“Well, yeah. You don’t seem all that excited or mad at Mama. You’re a Shining Warrior now, a hero! A wee laddie like you, a hero.” she said, and leaned on the side of the bed. “You get to travel all over Heroica and do all that fancy stuff with magic powers. Isn’t it exciting?”

“It’s scary. I don’t think I can do it,” he said, and looked away. Elise didn’t make a sound, so he dared to look back, where he met her annoyed look.

“Are you being silly right now? You know what this is, don’t you?” she raised her voice. Before he could reply, the door knocked.

“Prince Shelly, Princess Elise? It’s me, Kusha,” the Wigglytuff’s muffled voice came through.

“Huh? That was quick… you can come in, but hurry up. We’re talking here,” Elise called out. Shelly sat up as the door opened and instantly locked onto a trolley layered with plates.

“Huh? Wait, is that?” he gasped and rushed over. The sweet aroma, the juicy colour, the mounds in the brown sauce – there was no mistaking it. “Apple curry!”

“Turns out they were already on their way to you. And I guess they read your mind on the apple preference,” Kusha said.

“Be careful. It’s still hot,” the Bellossom beside her said. She stepped back to curtsy, and then Shelly laughed excitedly. “And if you would like seconds, the pot has all the curry I cooked up today. It’s thermal, so it’ll stay hot for a while. I hope it’s to your liking, Your Highness.”

Shelly snatched the plate on top without a second thought, but he didn’t realise how hot it really was until he brought it to his face. He yelped and nearly threw the plate up in the air, realised what he was doing, and wound up dancing on his toes as he cried out and balanced the plate. There were screams and shouts, and the others stumbled away in expectation of the worst. And then all of a sudden, a strange sensation triggered and everything went in slow motion to him.

Everything he needed to know right now became apparent to him: that plate and the food were piping hot, and if he didn’t cool it, he was going to drop it everywhere. So he focused, and one hand balanced the plate by propping it straight up while the other swept up his scalchop. He caught the plate on top of his scalchop and balanced it from there.

With the plate balanced on his scalchop, he had time to scoop an orb out of his bag, where he switched hands in a flash. He tossed the orb into the air so that the hand that held his scalchop could catch it, while the hand that previously held the orb could balance the scalchop and plate. He rummaged through the orb like it was a bag to retrieve a thick towel, which made easy work of holding the plate at last.

His audience mouths’ were on the floor, but he didn’t notice. The smell was too enticing. The apples were sliced and drenched in curry sauce alongside a mountainous pile of rice, which bathed in apple cider. It steamed in his face, but just the look of it and he couldn’t stop drooling. He licked his lips aloud and scooped up his first bite without a care for the heat.

“Sh-Shelly—” Elise stepped forward, surprised that he didn’t recoil. He stuffed his face with so much that his cheeks bulged, and then let out a muffled squeal of delight.

“Sho good!” he gurgled, and then dug in.

“Feel free to eat as much as you want. There’s plenty,” Bellossom said. Elise cleared her throat, so she curtsied and left along with Kusha. Moments later, Elise and Shelly were alone again.

She slowly raised a hand to say something, but hesitated. The way he contently stuffed himself with that curry was beastly. The plate would be clean in a few seconds, so she blankly reached for the pots below the trolley and began to sort another round for him.

“Ah, thank you,” he said with a half full mouth. That didn’t stop him from burying his face again, though.

She could only stare in amazement. At first she felt her chest weigh with frustration, but now, she was relieved. Relieved enough to make him another plate when he was coming to the end of his second. By now his face was a mess with grains and sauce which he periodically slurped up, but she couldn’t care less. She would have to be a demon to disturb his happiness, so she knelt down and watched him with a warm smile.

Four plates later, he finally sat back with a satisfied gasp. She could have sworn he had grown fatter from this meal alone, but there was something cute about that thought that brought her to giggle and blush. He looked at her in confusion, but she didn’t say anything. She reached out and brushed a bit of leftover sauce from his face onto her hand, and licked it.

“A-ah, did I leave you any? I’m sorry, I was so hungry I—” he gasped.

“It’s okay it’s okay, I’m not hungry. I just, heh, forgot how much ya love this stuff. The way you eat, it makes me wish I could eat a lot too,” she said.

“There’s plenty left, I hope,” he said as he reached over. The rice was very much finished, the curry pot had maybe half a plate of sauce left, while there were only handful of apple slices. He went bright red at her giggle. “Er… you can have the apples.”

“No no, it’s fine. Really!” she said.

“… Can I have the apples?” he asked quietly.

“You don’t have to ask me! But are you still hungry after all of that?” she said.

“I think the apples will do me for the night,” he said as he snatched them up. She watched him crunch away for a while, but he slowed to consider her at last.

“Shelly… do you remember your promise to me?” she said, leaning towards him.

“You said something about that earlier,” he said. Now that he wasn’t starving to death, his mind glossed over a memory, and he realised. “About us seeing the world together?”

“Yeah, you do remember. You said you were gonna take me on a trip around the world once we became knights.” She smiled brightly. “I… I’m sorry about before. When you held hands with Kusha, I got really upset. And then you didn’t seem all that excited about becoming a Shining Warrior. But I… I guess I just forgot what you get like when you’re hungry.”

“But I am scared. This isn’t like the training stuff we do at the palace. That stuff’s easy because I know I can’t get hurt,” he said. He swallowed the last of the apples. “But I… I’m not as good as you or the other girls. I’m not that strong, I’m clumsy with a sword, and I can only put my shield up because I’m scared of getting hurt.”

“But you promised, that’s why you’re here, right?” she said.

“I… guess.” He looked away.

“Shelly, I love you so much. I wouldn’t love a Pokémon who was a weak coward. You’re stronger and more skilled than you give yourself credit for. You’re talented, too. You’re the only one who can use the Treasure Orb. Do you know how cool that is?” she said, leaning so close to his face that he could feel her breath. He couldn’t stop blushing, but that didn’t stop her from giving him a kiss on the lips. He froze, letting her stay there for a while, too.

When she broke away, he was surprised to see her were cheeks bright red, too. “E-Elise…”

“This is our chance for our dream to come true, isn’t it? You’re a Shining Warrior, and Mama can’t stop you from leaving. Even if you can’t get me an amulet, I can come with you and help you. We can go on that trip around the world, and save it at the same time. It couldn’t be more romantic!” she said, twirling around him. “Let’s do it, Shelly! Let’s do the Shining Warrior journey together.”

“Uh… sure,” he nodded blankly.

“Sure?” she froze, and then leaned into him again. “It’s your promise! You are gonna take me, aren’t you?”

“I want to,” he said.

“You’re my husband. You have to promise me, Shelly! No matter what. Promise me we’re gonna travel the world together!” she said. She brought them close and held their hands between them. “Be the man I know you are.”

Urgh. I really don’t think I can do this, but she’s not going to take no for an answer right now,” he thought. He tried to look away, gulped, shook his head, and then faced her sternly. No matter what, his heart raced and he didn’t feel right. “I promise you we’ll travel the world someday.”

“Oh Shelly, that’s more like it!” she cheered as she kissed him again, and then cuddled him. “I love you so much!”

He laughed awkwardly as he returned her affection with a cuddle. He couldn’t look at her at all, but she didn’t seem to notice. She soon stepped back and curtsied. “It’s getting dark, so I’m gonna head back to my patch before I slump over. But I’ll be over bright and early to talk about this. We’re getting’ outta here tomorrow no matter what, so make sure you sleep well. Thank you so much, Shelly!”

He was slow to hold out a hand as she skipped out, and retracted it as she turned around to wave at him. When he was sure she was gone, he slumped. “What’ve I done? I feel awful.

“She a childhood friend?” Angel’s voice came out.

Shelly barely moved, tugging and prodding at himself as he pondered a response. “She’s… my wife. We’ve, er, been together fourteen years. I-I mean fifteen.”

“Childhood marriage, huh? No judging if that’s your island’s tradition and all that,” Angel said without coming out of the amulet. “But it does seem kinda weird. I just thought, I don’t mind her being around y’know, especially if it helps you. I can’t make her a Shining Warrior or anything, but I also can’t say no to couple choosing to travel.”

“I-I know what it looks like. But I really do love her, you know,” he said.

“You sure about that? ‘Cos it’s clear as day to me,” she said.

“I-I’m just trying to keep her happy. That’s… what I’m meant to do, right?” he asked. Angel didn’t respond, so he groaned and settled down in bed. “That was weird. I’m not wrong, am I? That’s how this is supposed to work. That’s why Mama put us together…

He tried to go to sleep after that. His room wasn’t built for a water type at all, but it was a haven he felt comfortable in, at least. His cushiony dog bed had no blankets because it was always too hot, while the light smell of pollen wafted through the room constantly. Forest surrounded the glass walls on all sides except the exit and ceiling, which had a wonderful view of the clear sky and the rising moon. He didn’t know how to feel about leaving all this behind, and in his efforts to tell himself that he had to, he drifted off to sleep.
 
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Pen

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  1. dratini
Hey, here for Catnip Circle, reviewing Ruby Episode 1.

Ruby has quite a lot going on in her life! Her mom was murdered, and she wants revenge. I guess she knows who was responsible, even though we don't yet. She has a tendency to get fire belly-aches that lead to her having to expel flames everywhere, in a world that has some stigma or sanction against the use of elemental attacks. I don't fully get what Bestia is yet, or why using it's an issue--interesting to see how that gets fleshed out. The fact that it seems to be a requirement to carry a weapon if you want to leave the village suggests a pretty brutal world. I wondered whether needing to carry a weapon is something that's actually enforced, which would paradoxically imply a pretty regimented, regulated world that would seem to render weapons unnecessary. If weapons are needed because it's just so dangerous, I'm not sure why Ruby would need one, since she can attack with fire. Who's going to be giving her crap for it in the dangerous wilderness? I was left wanting a bit of a stronger sense of why Ruby can't just hightail it out of town as she so clearly wants to.

Ruby hates the town, and we're told they treat her badly, though it's interesting that all the interactions we see are pretty positive--Crystal is her friend, and the shopkeeper seems to like her quite a bit. I was curious about the whole cyndaquil who can open her eyes thing. Are there many other cyndaquils in the area? The town seems so small and isolated that I wonder whether they'd even have a frame of reference for what's proper cyndaquil eye dilation. It's also interesting to me that Ruby has her own house. To me that implies the village affords her with some level of independence and maturity.

At times I felt like Ruby didn't know information she should know (and that other people knew things they shouldn't know). For example, she and Crystal have obviously talked over leaving the village before--yet it's a revelation to Ruby that she needs a weapon? I wonder if you could have it so that she already knows this, and they're planning to go get her a weapon at the store that day. Them arriving and then getting told there's laws about it would make more sense to me. Another place was the fact that Ruby, who is stir-crazy and lives in a super small town, has never seen or heard of this casino before. A third was the whole 'jump in the river' thing. Ruby isn't afraid of the river because she's odd and trains there, but your average cyndaquil would obviously avoid water and would probably know about the whole 'dying in water' thing. So why in the world does Smokes think this plan is at all feasible? It's one thing to think "I can convince this dumb kid to help me out." It's another to think "Yeah I can totally talk this fire-type kid into diving into the water." It would make more sense to me if he just tries to lure her close enough to the river to kick her in and get rid of her--though I'm not sure why murder is his first thought. He's not really in danger from her. If she tells someone, "This guy promised me his umbrella in exchange for helping him at the casino" the reaction is most likely, "Kid, you can't have a weapon and what were you even doing in a casino?" And he's clearly not afraid of her beating him up. So the whole river sequence did strain my suspension of disbelief a bit.

I was curious about the roots of Crystal and Ruby's friendship. They don't actually seem to like each other much, and have very opposing personalities. I wondered what brought them together, and why Crystal is so loyal. It might have been nice to have an interaction that showed Ruby doing something considerate for Crystal, just to give a sense of why they're still friends. Maybe Crystal's been bullied too, and Ruby, who is more aggressive, used to intercede for her?

I enjoyed Smokes' character. It's fun how all the signs scream "bad news" and Ruby blithely goes ahead and trusts him. She seems to suffer from tunnel vision, at the expense of her judgement. Exhibit A, Smokes, but Exhibit B telling the knights about Suzy. Oof. Doesn't seem like that's going anywhere good.

Over all, I got a pretty strong sense of Ruby's personality from this, but it would have been nice to have a moment of her not being completely bratty, or something that shows us the mistreatment she's been reacting against. In the absence of that, despite her tragic backstory, I'm not as invested in her trials and travails as I could be. In terms of worldbuilding, seems like you've got a lot of balls up in the air! Interesting to see where they fall.

Thunder rumbled and rainy wind shook the forest relentlessly. Shrill cries and violent whooshes came from shadows who tore down shrubs and trunks in the wake of a sprinting Typhlosion. Despite the dark, blurry view and the swampy ground, she sprinted well ahead of her attackers. Her head was down, her fiery mane blazed, and her front paws cradled a Cyndaquil.
Since this is your opening paragraph, I'll go a little more in-depth on the prose. One thing to watch out for is sentence variation. Your first two sentences start with the formulation [x and y], which gives the paragraph a bit of a repetitive feel from the start.

[Shrill cries and violent whooshes came from shadows who tore down shrubs and trunks in the wake of a sprinting Typhlosion.]
There's a lot of info packed into here. We have shadows. They're letting out shrill cries and violent whooshes. They are tearing down shrubs and trees. They are doing all this because they are pursuing a sprinting Tyflosion. It's a lot to digest in a single sentence--I recommend trying to keep from cramming too much info into a single sentence. The ordering of the info also feels a little strange. Why do we start with the shrill cries and violent whooshes? What's motivating the transition from the first sentence to the second?

I notice there's a common tendency in fic writers to start zoomed out and then sort of zoom in, but it can often be more effective to start with what's relevant. For example,

"A typhlosion raced through the storm-tossed forest, her paws churning up the muddy ground. From behind her came the crash of trees and the shrill, menacing cries of her pursuers. The rain had deepened into a torrential downpour, obscuring her path, but the typhlosion didn't falter. She continued to run, her head low, her mane blazing. Her front paws cradled a small cyndaquil."

Here a reader has something to focus on--the typhlosion running, and then all the various things that play into that, why she's running, how she's running.

She could just about twist her body to see ahead, but all that wielded were blurry colours that zoomed past in a world of black.
I think you mean "yielded" not wielded" here? I have a bit of trouble visualizing what colors she's seeing if the world is black.

Her body was freezing, which made her mother’s grip feel like icy daggers that pierced her sides.
I found this a bit confusing. Surely any contact with her mom, a living fire-type with high body heat, is going to be warmer than no contact, even if Mom's fur is wet?

All she could do was shiver and huff as she was squeezed into the Typhlosion’s drenched fur, and wait desperately for whatever was happening to end.
Switching back to "the Tyflosion" feels odd after the tyflosion has been identified as Mom.

Several trees collapsed to the ground with a violently loud crash that made her cringe hard.
The ordering feels a bit off here, if we're in her head now. In the order that she would perceive this, it would go loud crash - cringe - it was trees collapsing.

Every instinct made her feel like she was going to die.
I'm not quite sure what this means?

And then her mother skidded to a stop, and a cold wind chilled her into a pathetic whimper.
"Chilled her into a pathetic whimper" reads very oddly to me. It sounds like it's saying the wind is transforming her into a chilled whimper. I also think Mom's skidding to a stomp would read as more decisive if you ended the sentence there, rather than appending the extra clause.

There was some kind of giant Ribombee that held a staff in its long, dangly arms. It was surrounded by a host of unfamiliar monsters that made wild noises and stomped the ground.
I wasn't sure how to take 'unfamiliar monsters.' These are just other species of pokemon she doesn't recognize?

the bug-type said in his posh tone.
Small POV thing--using "his posh tone" implies familiarity with this person and their having a posh tone. The way someone who has never heard this person speak before would phrase it is, "a posh tone." I also found this detail a little odd--cyndaquil seems a bit young to be recognizing what's posh or not.

She held her Cyndaquil in a stiff stance that looked ready to run again. The instant her attackers shifted toward her, she threw herself off the cliff, and they ran to the edge in surprise.
To increase the impact of Tyflosion throwing herself off the cliff (!) I'd recommend ending the sentence there. Give us a beat to go, 'woah!'

Ex. "Cyndaquil could feel the tension in her grip. The instant her attackers shifted toward her, she threw herself off the cliff.

The last thing Cyndaquil saw was the surprise on their attackers' faces. Then everything became a blur."

And just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, there was a loud splash, and then every sound was replaced with muffled bubbling.

Cyndaquil opened her mouth to scream, but all she got was a painful gulp of water down her throat. All of a sudden, she was deep in a murky river, but still cradled so tight that she couldn’t move.
It feels odd that we get auditory info here, but no touch? Doesn't Cyndaquil feel the impact or the sudden bite of the water?

Typhlosion took several bumps and crashes, but each one jolted Cyndaquil enough to open her mouth or sniffle, where a sharp pain coursed through her.
I wasn't sure what it meant for Tyflosion to "take" bumps and crashes.

Soon enough, her body was limp and her eyesight darkened as she gradually fell unconscious.

She didn’t know how long she was underwater for, but it was long enough that everything felt like a hazy, feverous dream to her.
I was a bit confused here, because if she falls unconscious, then the reason she doesn't know how long she's underwater is that she was unconscious.

Everything was blurry beyond recognition now, and she was so damp and soggy that the water dripping off her was slurped up through her desperate coughs and gasps.
I don't follow what's happening in that second clause. She's so damp that the water dripping off of her was slurped up through her coughs? Can't really parse what that means.

Her breaths were frantic and sweat cascaded from her head, while her eyes struggled to adjust to the early morning light.
Cascaded from her head makes it sound like her head is the only source of the sweating?

She was alone in a cosy room on a bed of hay. No one was around, she wasn’t drowning, and the weather outside looked pleasant.

That one again, huh?” she thought as her breath settled. “Ever since I made plans to get outta here, I can’t stop thinkin’ about it. Dang it. Well, it’s early enough to get on with stuff still, so no use complainin’.

She grunted and clutched her stomach. She felt like her insides were on fire, and despite being a fire type Pokémon, that was the distant opposite of comfortable.
The sequence here feels a bit odd. She wakes up, her heart racing and sweaty, calms down, then suddenly gets the pain in her stomach. It feels like it would be more natural for her to have woken up with the pain, rather than it kicking in after a few sentences?

Outside, a pillar of flame shot up into the sky as if the house was an erupting volcano, complete with a high-pitched kettle screech and a cloud of sooty smoke.
This was a nice visual.

She was left puffing and panting, but stood on all fours to not fall face flat.
I don't get this. She stands on all fours as opposed to . . ? Does she normally not do that?

This house had nothing for her needs. Besides the fireplace, there was a small beanbag for a bed, two windows, and that was it. The walls and floor were whatever the natural stone of the village was. “This is the last time I’m gonna see this dump. Good riddance.
I mean, at least she has her own house?

Her voice had a mature deepness, but its tone was irritably quiet and calm.
I had trouble with what this would sound like. "irritably calm" is kind of a contradiction. If you mean that Ruby finds her calmness irritating, maybe something like, "Her voice had a mature deepness, and, to Ruby's continual frustration, always kept to a quiet, calm tone." (Don't think "but" is appropriate--what's the contradiction between a deep voice and a calm voice?)

Before she approached, a Piplup came out and politely shut the door behind them.
Small POV note--Ruby knows Piplup's gender. And an omniscient narrator would know it too. So really the only instance the narrative would be leaving that unknown would be if we were in the close POV of a character who doesn't know Piplup's gender.

Ruby only just noticed the red scarf around her neck, as well as the sharp weapon strapped to her back.

“Well, whatever. You get the picture, it looks like,” she said. She turned her volume down. “Ready to hit the road? We’re getting’ outta here and we’re not comin’ back ‘till we’ve got cold, hard, revenge.”

“Well… revenge is your thing, Ruby.” Crystal turned away. She shook again and pointed a wing at her. “Besides, you’re not ready. We couldn’t leave even if we wanted to.”
Have they discussed this previously, or no? This seems like an issue that would have come up before?

“And you know all about the Bestia laws. The Pokémon have accepted it here, but if we go out into the road, using your fire would make it seem like you’re using Bestia in public. Other Pokémon would be all over you for sure! You need a weapon.” Crystal continued.
I don't follow this reasoning. Sounds like all Ruby needs to do is not use her fire? Why does she need a weapon as well?

She had been through Lillistep Village’s cosy paths far too many times to care about the sentimental views of leaving it all behind.
I wasn't sure how to interpret this. She's not currently leaving it all behind. Is the idea that because she's planning to leave shortly, one might expect her to sentimentally soak in the view, but she's not doing that? You might need to draw that out a bit.

The weather was always warm even when there were pathetic showers they called rains.
So Ruby thinks the rainfall here is weak enough that it shouldn't even be called rain? What does she have to compare it to?

Kecleon folded his arms. “They appear to be recruiting strong Pokémon for some massive construction project over in the east. I doubt they would find any muscle willing to travel that far in our fair village, but I appreciate that those higher class Pokémon remember us.”
I really like this detail. Gives a sense of how this village fits into the larger world and how the villagers identify--happy to be well out of the way, but pleased to be considered significant.

By my dead body!
The usual idiom is "Over my dead body."

“Besides, it’s illegal for unmatured Pokémon to use weapons. Either evolve first, or wait until you’re eighteen.”
The eighteen age strikes me as a bit odd. With so many different species, do they really all have comparable maturity after 18 years? I feel like an eighteen year-old caterpie vs an eighteen-year-old onyx are going to e in a pretty different places.

“Sheesh. Why do you have to be like this?”
These two don't seem that fond of each other!

“It’s wrong for me to want to leave this stupid village. It’s wrong for me to wanna learn how to fight. It’s wrong for me to shoot fire, even though it hurts super bad when I don’t. And now it’s wrong for me to wanna steal something to do what I need to do,” she said. Crystal went quiet. “Well it never stopped that murderer from stealing my Mother’s life. I’m going to find that bastard no matter what it takes, and kill him for killing my Mother. I told you that already.”
I liked this monologue. It contextualizes a lot of Ruby's frustrations and bratty attitude. I particularly like the slide from stealing weapons to stealing life.

It was almost like her beak had a determined frown, even though that was impossible.
Since that is impossible, maybe pick a different way of describing it?

This one was made of stone, yet painted a myriad of bright, neon colours from top to bottom. It wasn’t shaped like a dome either, but a large cuboid. It even had a large board above the entrance that looked like shiny coins.

“Wait a minute, why haven’t I seen this before?” Ruby whispered.

“The casino. Mum always said to avoid this place, too. It was hidden behind the hill and the river, so I guess we never saw it,” Crystal said.
This pushes at my suspension of disbelief a bit. Ruby, who is clearly energetic, loves exploring, and hates following rules, has never wandered out here and discovered this place, which is so close to the village?

Raichu and Mawile seemed to be the common staff about the place, but every single one of them wore a strange, skin-tight black suit that gave them ears like an Azumarill. This was even though they already had ears.
I'm really confused by this. Is this some sort of catsuit thing? Why would pokeworld have this specific fetish? Stuff like this can make me feel like we're talking about humans and just giving them pokemon names.

The knight was about to respond, but one of his comrades leaned in to whisper. Once they stood back, he stood straight and tapped his spear again. “I know this is sudden, but I have a question for you, Miss Ruby.”
This transition in the conversation does feel abrupt, and lampshading that in-text doesn't actually help with that, it just makes it more pronounced. Maybe Ruby could rant about how stupid Suzy won't let her have a weapon, and then they could say, "This Suzy wouldn't be a kangaskan by any chance?" etc.

Huh? Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Do they know her? Suzie’s never said anything about the knights before. Wait, what Crystal said before,” she thought.



“Psst, Ruby. Mum always said that if we ever saw a knight, to make sure they didn’t see you and come home right away. We’ve got to go back and tell her,” Crystal said.



Ruby’s chest became heavy. “This means they know who Suzie is, and they want something bad with her. But what? Suzie’s the last Pokémon I expect to be in trouble.
This little italicized min-flashback felt a bit jarring. I think you can work this info in without going into flashback mode.

Hmm. Maybe if I tell ‘em, they’ll reward me with a weapon though. That must be why they’re talkin’ so smart,” she thought, and nodded to herself. “She runs the nursery here. It’s the big building that looks like a Pikachu.”
Wow, Ruby is a major asshole.

“Through the games, of course. It’s illegal for kids to play gambling games, but they say the young have a mystical aura of luck and focus about them that makes them ace at games of chance. Plus… I’ve seen you. Your eyes can open, can’t they?” he said with a sneaky smile.

Ruby shifted back and her chest became heavy again.

“Don’t worry, I promise I won’t hurt you or anything. I’m not forcing you, either. But I know enough about Pokémon with unusual traits. A Cyndaquil who can open their eyes ought to have way good focus,” he said, pointing a nail at her. “So, what do you say? Win me some Gald and the brella’s yours.”
This reasoning is unconvincing to me to explain why he knows she would have this ability. There seem to be a lot of logic leaps.

He surprised her by lifting her up, but he was unexpectedly delicate with his claws. She did blush a bit, though. She hadn’t been held up like this for longer than she could properly remember. He somehow didn’t smell as bad here, either.
I wasn't sure why she's blushing? Being held up presumably evokes being treated like a little kid? I would expect some indignation? I don't get the bit about the smell, either. He smells better close up?

Three other Pokémon watched the board too, so it was as if she was being waited on.
I didn't follow the last clause. Waited on as in, as if they were waiting for her to do something? I don't see why them looking at the board would make her feel that way.

The other Pokémon gave him funny looks of course, but all Ruby could see was that all eyes were on her.
I thought all eyes would be on the board?

But only when she was brave enough to open her eyes like this could she actually see correctly. No longer was everything surrounded by blur.
How do cyndaquil who can't open their eyes see?

She pictured it as a Forretress using Gyro Ball, and where her Flamethrower would hit if she was to try and strike the bug hidden behind the shell.
I thought it was forbidden to attack other pokemon using elemental moves?

But Ruby’s eyes could see it all. Or was it prediction? She didn’t know or care. That Forretress of a roulette board wasn’t going to throw her off. The higher speed almost helped, in a way. At that momentum, the ball only had one place it could land.

“It’s the number three,” she whispered.

“Red three,” Smokes said calmly.
The flow is nice here. I can feel Ruby's growing certainty.

“I wish. I’m probably banned for life from this place for pulling the shit I just did. But now, that ain’t it. I promise you, gentleman’s promise. It won’t take long.” he pleaded with claws pressed together.
Pleaded is being used as a speech verb here, so you want a comma instead of a period.

And being a Charmeleon and all, I stand not a chance,” he said.
And why would a cyndaquil stand a better chance?

He bowed and prayed to her again.
This strikes me as really odd. He's literally bowing and praying to her? What does that mean here?

Let’s just get this over with,” She thought, and growled.
Thoughts are usually italicized without quotation marks, and they follow the same punctuation rules as dialogue. Ie, 'she thought' should not be capitalized.

but surely enough
* but sure enough

She didn’t expect the riverbed to be so slimy, but surely enough, she slipped ahead and over the obvious mound of dirt she went for first.
'sure enough' as a connector doesn't make sense here. That phrase connotes expectations being confirmed. So it would make sense if you said, "She expected the riverbed to be slimy, and sure enough, she slipped . . ." But what you're describing here is it not being what she expected.

She let out another bubble to comment, and jolted in surprise.
I'm not sure what it means for her to 'let out another bubble to comment'?

The effort she had to put in had her moan and growl as she dug her forelegs into the mud and ripped it aside to dig out and reveal whatever this thing was.
Moaning and growling require vocalizing, which doesn't make sense underwater.

Once she saw that golden gleam, she could help but yelp with widened eyes. She slapped her forelegs over her mouth instantly, but that little yelp had put water in her mouth.
Putting your hands over your mouth after yelping underwater doesn't seem like a reaction someone would realistically have. She's already going to feel the water in her mouth.

Damn it no just come free already!
Need some commas here. "Dammit, no, just come free already!"

She had little strength left, and whenever she closed her mouth, her need for air made her immediately open again and gurgle.
If she's reached the state of air deprivation where she can't stop herself from swallowing tons of water, she's pretty screwed.

Her gurgles and the muffled water around her kept her adrenaline and panic high, so she went right back to her jumps.
I can't follow the causality here. How do her gurgles and the 'muffled water' keep her adrenaline high?

“Arf. Urgh, how did you even get out of that? You’re supposed to be dead, kid!” he raised his voice.

“Oh poor you. Turns out a little water ain’t enough to douse my flame.” She smiled cockily. “I train in this river. See how long I can hold my breath, fight the current and stuff. So I’m way stronger than a normal Cyndaquil.”

“Fuck off. Any fire type kid your age would get killed doing that!” Smokes said.

“That’s what I’m saying. I’m that strong,” she bragged.

“That’s impossible!” he snapped at her, and her eyes widened. “Fire types die submerged in water for that length of time, or at least they get crippled. That’s scientific fact! You mean to tell me you’re so much of a freak you regularly dive in for training?”

Fire types… die in water? Wait, if he kicked me in, then… he tried to kill me. He really tried to kill me?” she gasped.
Huh, if water kills fire-types wouldn't she know that? And more importantly, wouldn't he expect her to know that?

“Grr, fuck it. Whatever. I’ll just knock you out and dump your body in the river. Probably should’ve done that in the first place,” he said, and posed with his weapon.
Why is he posing? Is someone about to take a picture? Maybe, "and he raised his weapon."
 
Shelly Episode 2: The Danger Of Cute Charm

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Shelly complete - Copy.png

Shelly Episode 2: The Danger Of Cute Charm



“Shelly? Shelly, wake up!” Angel called out. He groaned and turned over. It felt like he’d just started dreaming. “Oh come on, I’m tryin’ to help you out here! Seriously, get up!”

He gurgled something as he forced himself to sit up. He couldn’t stop rubbing an eye. “Wha… it’s still dark. What time is it?”

“I dunno, sometime late. But that Wigglytuff’s makin’ some mischief, and she’s on her way here. I’d be wary if I were you,” Angel said. She hadn’t come out of the amulet, so he yawned and stretched.

“I’m so tired,” he sighed.

“Too bad. Look alive, here she comes,” Angel said anxiously.

Shelly flinched when he heard the door handle move, and then scrambled to hide behind the bed. He had to curl himself up to get out of sight, and he could barely see over the side. Sure enough, Kusha snuck into the room. He couldn’t see her face thanks to the darkness, but the way how she delicately closed the door and then floated across the room, he grew wary.

“Don’t bother hiding from me. My ears can pick up anything. I can hear you breathing,” she said softly. He stood up after that, and she instantly located him. “Good, you’re awake, and wary.”

“That’s to be debated,” he yawned again.

“I promise I’m not here to hurt you. But I need you to trust me. The situation’s dire,” she said. Shelly still shifted back from her approach. “Please Shelly, I mean it. I want to help you.”

“Help me?” he said.

“Shh, not so loud. I’m going to help you get out of here, so I need you to trust me,” she said. She dropped to all fours and bowed, to his surprise. “Please work with me. This might be the only chance we get.”

“What’s going on? What do you mean?” Shelly whispered. He shook his head as the reality of what was going on finally hit. “Wait a minute, how did you get here? Don’t the Vileplume patrol at night?”

Kusha played with her hands. “Don’t ask questions you’re not prepared to hear the answer to.”

“Just tell me. Enough’s going on now that I don’t get.” He shook his head.

“I had to take them out. I don’t know how long they’ll stay put, but once they find out, I’m out of here. And I’m not leaving without you,” she said, standing back up.

“I’d take it if I were you. I dunno what other chance you’re gonna get,” Angel said.

“But why?” Shelly whispered.

“I’m actually a spy from the Vilé region. I was sent here to keep watch on the army’s activities. I didn’t think I’d be playing my hand so soon, though,” she said. “We’ve had spies here for years. Once we learnt that Queen Gladys was raising a son that was a water type, we had suspicions. So through some luck and fancy strings, I was able to train to be your retainer.”

“Huh,” Shelly replied, staring up at her.

“And now, I’m going to get you out of here. I can’t let Queen Gladys hold a Shining Warrior captive. And whatever she originally wanted you for, it sounds like taking you away now will totally foil that,” she said. “So please. Come with me, Shelly. Work with me, and let’s get you out of here.”

There was clear hesitation as he played with his hands. After a moment, he walked over to where his belongings were and equipped his headband and Gospel Vibe. It instantly glowed purple, though only the slightest hint of the colour. “Okay. What do I have to do?”

Kusha was surprised. “Are you sure? You’re… not going to question why I’m against your mother?”

“I know how important the Shining Warrior legend is. If Mama won’t tell me why she won’t let me do it, then… I th-think I have to do it. No matter what,” he said, playing with his hands.

“I have to remember you’re only fifteen. But that’s good enough for me. Make sure you’ve got everything, and then stay close,” she said.

He spent a minute rummaging through his stuff, but there wasn’t much he could take. All he had was a handbag shaped like a pouch which could fit his Treasure Orb, and a couple of Eyedrop Seeds. He forced a Reviver Seed in there too, and then joined her by the door. “I’m ready.”

“Absolutely certain? There’s no coming back here once we step out.” She leaned forward to pat him.

“I’ve got everything. I don’t have much stuff,” he said, looking away. She smiled and sighed, and then turned around. There was a long pause, and he raised his eyebrow at her. It almost looked like she was poking her backside at him.

“Well then? What’re you waiting for? Get on.” She half turned back.

“H-huh?” He flinched.

“Get on my back so we can sneak out of here. Keep quiet, and don’t even think about touching any… areas,” she said.

He was wary enough to climb up her side instead. The moment he touched her, he was reminded of that comfortable feeling he got from holding her hand before. Her body was firm and large enough for him to get a good grip on, but soft enough to relax on. The axe didn’t even bother him.

Once she was sure he was held on tight, she inflated a little and floated out, making sure to close the door behind her, too. “Okay, let’s see now. They said the secret place was in the back… might be a while.”

“Secret place?” Shelly said.

“Shh. Don’t talk until we’re outside,” she replied, and then they were on their way.

Am I doing the right thing?” he thought as she swiftly floated down the hallways. The last time he had been awake this late, he had been grounded even though all he wanted to do was find somewhere to take a leak. The palace at dark was as intimidating back then as it was now.

The only Pokémon awake were Vileplume and Shiinotic, as evident by the luminous glows in the distance. Thanks to the glass walls of the palace, it was difficult to tell what was a wall and what led directly into the surrounding forest, especially as those glows could be seen no matter where they went. Kusha seemed to know what she was doing regardless, and made careful advances across the halls to avoid the patrolling soldiers.

But she couldn’t avoid them completely. A couple of soldiers, both Shiinotic, were marching straight toward them. Kusha pulled her axe from her back, and then silently flapped her arms like wings to float toward the ceiling.

Shelly held his breath, but his heart beat so fast he could hear it. He knew what was about to happen, and he couldn’t tear his eyes away even though he knew he didn’t want to see it. Thanks to the darkness and the size of the halls, Kusha was probably way out of sight on the ceiling like this. The moment the Shiinotic were directly below them, their glow lit them up, and the mushroom Pokémon stopped in place.

Kusha didn’t waste a moment. She deflated and motioned in such a way that she threw her body down with surprising force, appearing behind the Shiinotic for an moment. She carried that momentum with careful movements, and spun to smash one of the Shiinotic with the blunt side of her axe. The other one gasped and shouted as they turned to attack her, but Kusha already had recoiled and spun into another swing. Her axe met that one’s face too, and just like that, the two guards stopped glowing.

Shelly let out a breath and wiped his forehead of sweat. He had expected a more gruesome outcome, but he knew not to complain about this. And just as always, she never touched the floor once. With that floaty glide, they were well away from the scene in seconds.

A few more similar scenes of sneaking and ambushing later, and they managed to reach a familiar hallway, one with a staircase to the second floor. Shelly brightened up crawled around her side so that he could see her face. “O-oh, wait. Can we go and get Elise?”

“Elise? Do you think she would help?” she whispered.

“I-I promised her we would leave together. She wants to get out, too. She’d definitely help,” he said. Kusha looked at the staircase worriedly. “It’s not far. Just up there and to the right.”

Looking to the glass walls, Kusha followed his directions. Three Roserade sat directly outside the room, although they looked asleep. “I’m not gonna be able to get in there without fighting them.”

“They wouldn’t fight me. I could get her,” he said.

“Sorry kid. It’s too risky. You’ve got to take risks when the time calls for it,” she said, and bent down again. “I dunno how much attention you pay to your surroundings, but did you know that this is the only room in the palace to have a solid floor?”

“But glass is solid, isn’t it?” He cocked his head.

“Well I mean like,” Kusha mumbled as she skipped across the room. “You can’t see through the floor of this room, unlike the glass floor everywhere else. And the reason is… aha! Found it.”

He didn’t realise she’d been kicking the floor, where she revealed a tiny ring attached to a string. She pulled it to open a trap door, once again careful in setting it down so they could descend. Shelly went silent out of both interest and fear now, evident by the purple of his leaf growing stronger.

“After you.” She presented the path to him. A perfectly square drop with a collection of vines on one of the walls. He could use those vines as a ladder to get down, but it was even darker down there than it was here. So he gulped and prodded his hands together.

“E-er, Mama always told me to let ladies go first,” he said.

“Oh, how gentlemanly,” Kusha said with a giggle and a half-lidded look. She hopped up to float down, so he grabbed her to descend with her.

He started breathing through his mouth. It was dark before, yet it got darker the further they descended. He expected the shady glow of the night to be here, but instead, it was so dark that he couldn’t even see Kusha’s body despite clutching her. Everything was black, and it made him shiver from cold.

“Are you okay?” Kusha’s voice made him jump.

“A-aye. S-sorry,” he whispered, squeezing her even tighter.

“You’re holding on so hard… hmm… Wait. Those were Eyedrop Seeds you took earlier, right? Let’s eat one,” she said.

That is, if he could even get one out of his bag. He trusted himself enough to find the zip, then rummaged and felt until he was sure he had the right seed. He knew to crunch it before swallowing, where the minty innards sent another chill through his form.

A few blinks later and things became visible to him. Everything got a grey outline to it, while his eyes glazed over with a light but irritating fluid. He could see in the dark like this. Not fine details, but enough tell what this area was.

The room was compact and disorganized. All sorts of strange contraptions were all over the desks and shelves, from small handheld devices to large machines on wheels, and everything in between. The walls here even had a hi-tech pattern of straight lines and wires all over them.

“Oh, wait. It’s just the lab. I’ve never been here at night,” he said.

“The lab? You say that like you’ve been here before,” Kusha said as he got off her. He waddled over to a corner where there was a giant slab of clear solid material.

“Aye. They taught me about how to make and use Wonder Orbs here. It’s where I got my Treasure Orb, too,” he said.

“I know a lot about Wonder Orbs, but I’ve never heard of a Treasure Orb. Did they somehow make a new one?” she asked.

“The Treasure Orb is a modified Storage Orb forged and programmed intricately with the engraving method.” He nodded and started playing with his hands. “I’m the only one who can use it, for some reason. It’s sorta like a bag. I can store and pull items out of it, but it’s really easy to mess up and pull out some random thing I didn’t know was in there.”

“I have so many questions.” Kusha leaned to the side a bit. “So that was where you got that towel from earlier? When you were eating.”

“I can even pull other orbs out of it. It’s where I keep my sword and shield, too,” he said.

“They make you carry a shield even though you’re an Oshawott? Doesn’t your scalchop do the trick?” She raised an eyebrow.

“As for the lab, they make all kinds of stuff down here, but it’s mostly forging Power Orbs to make all the machines work,” he said.

“Power Orbs? Wait so which is it? Are they building machines or are they building Wonder Orbs?” Kusha said. “In fact, it’s amazing that you guys can create orbs in the first place. I was under the impression that these were a random piece of nature.”

“That really big slab of hard stuff is called Derris Ore. That’s what they use to make Wonder Orbs. The scientists use a special tool to carve orbs out of the ore, and then engrave the ore with markings that program their effects. That’s how Pokémon make orbs in general. The orbs make all the machines here work,” Shelly said. He carefully squeezed his way over to one of the smaller machines and placed a nearby orb inside of it, which made it light up. It was only a tiny light no bigger than a candle, but it still entranced her.

“Okay, that’s cool and all, but we’re hard pressed for time. Is there a way I can like, compress this information? Like, get it written down or something,” she said. She looked down. “If the rest of Heroica had knowledge and power like this…”

Shelly moved to say something, but was immediately interrupted by a high pitched bleep so loud it shook his eardrums. Kusha shrieked, pressed her ears to her sides and fell to the floor, though the continued bleeps drowned out her cries of pain. Red gems on the ceiling lit up bright and gave everything in the room a red hue.

“What’s happening?” Shelly cried. A moment later and the bleeping stopped, but the red lights remained. He could hear an alarm bell constantly ringing too, but it was muffled as it came from beyond the walls.

“The guards… must’ve woken up. They’re onto us,” Kusha huffed. She was shivering hard.

“Are you okay?” Shelly said as she struggled to stand up. She took a moment to rub her form and steady her breath, and then her ears went back up.

“I am. Sorry about that. Loud noises irritate me more than the average Pokémon,” she said.

“Huh? But why?” He tilted his head.

“I have these big ears, Shelly.” She giggled. “But I’m fine, now. We need to find a way out of here, preferably without going back the way we came.”

“The only other way I know is the main stairs,” he said, looking over to it. It was hard to tell, but there was a corner that could be turned. There was a hard iron door that was shut tight there, though.

“There’s got to be something. One of these machines, anything,” she said as she began to rummage through the room. She quickly stopped in front of a contraption that looked like a fortified sleigh, only it had bike handles and a mass of cylinders and electricals underneath it. She cocked a smile and patted it. “I think I just found it.”

“I don’t know what everything does here. Some of it is still being built,” he said as he joined her.

“Still, we can work something out,” she said as she scooped him up and jumped on. There was a perfectly circular slot for an orb in the centre, and the handles could twisted. “If I got your explanation right, then what would happen if I put a Mobile Orb in there?”

“Any old orb won’t power it. The orb has to have special engravings to work with the machine,” he said.

She glanced at him, then the area where the sleigh was parked. There was an orb in a beaker right next to them. “Nice of them to put it where we couldn’t lose it.”

“Huh? Wait but we don’t know what this thing does,” he gasped.

“I have a pretty good idea,” she said, and slotted the orb in. In a flash, a loud rumble took over the room as a motor started up. “I knew it. Let’s just hope this little prototype lasts us!”

“Shelly, tell her to brace herself,” Angel said, popping out of his amulet. She tensed up and curled her wings inward as a sphere of bright blue energy grew in front of her mouth, and with it, a light breeze of wind twisted into it.

“H-huh? Hey wait, what is that?” Kusha gasped.

“Angel? What is?” Shelly gasped as well, and then realised what was about to happen. He hugged Kusha hard. “Just duck!”

Before she could, Angel let the Aura Sphere go. It smashed into the wall and filled the room with smoke and heat, which quickly cleared as a breeze came through. Angel had blown a hole that led straight outside.

“Oh, okay. Er, guardian angel, if you can hear this? I owe you big time,” Kusha said. She pulled back on the sleigh and twisted the handles, which revved up the motor with an exciting rumble. The duo were surprised when the machine floated off the floor a little, but Kusha seemed to be okay balancing the thing.

“E-erm, Kusha I really don’t think we should use this,” Shelly cried, clutching her even tighter.

“What do you mean? We’re going to get, and fast,” she said, giving him an eager smile. He sat there shivering like a Snorunt though, so she calmed down a little. “Hey, look at me. You trust me, don’t you?”

“I-I don’t really have a choice!” he cried.

“Uh uh, none of that. I’m not going to force you into this. If you’d be more comfortable staying here, then now is your last chance to do so. I won’t hold it against you and I won’t ever come back. You can forget this ever happened, and go relax a while,” she said.

Her calm tone made him freeze and look at her. She appeared as homely as her body felt. He couldn’t quite figure out what it was, but something about her relaxed him and allowed him to think straight. Her tone, her words, how loose and patient she looked and sounded, it was like he was certain that she wasn’t lying, even though she was someone he had just met.

He thought twice on the proposal, but what came to mind more was the fact that she made him feel this way. Elise didn’t make him feel relaxed or at home, neither did Queen Gladys, nor the Dartrix butlers or the Bellossom maids, and especially not the soldiers – and they were there specifically to protect him, too. She was the one to do it, and now he was dying to know why.

“I do trust you, Kusha. I just don’t know how all the machines here work.” he lied.

“Okay, fair enough. I just wanted to make sure so that we can’t call this a kidnapping. Could you call this a kidnapping?” she said.

“Mama might say that, actually.” He rolled his eyes.

“All the more reason to make sure we never come back. Alright, hold on tight!” she said, and revved up the engine again. He held on tight, but this time with an attempt to look determined.

Even with that preparation, he wasn’t ready for how fast and suddenly they shot off. He was flung back hard as the sleigh sped out of the hole so fast that it blurred the scenery. Strong wind whipped back against him, so he had to hold his headband to stop his Gospel Vibe from flying away, while the fluid from the Eyedrop Seed blew around and off of his face.

“Woo! At this rate, we’ll be by my escapee in no time!” Kusha cheered, leaning forward.

He made a cowardly cry and was very tempted to just shut his eyes and wait for this whole rush to blow over. But seeing the sleigh launch into the air and then bounce lightly just above the ground was too cool to miss. It almost looked like the vehicle was skating through the air, leaving a trail of windswept grass in its wake. This was magitech at its most satisfying.

“Look alive. They know you’ve escaped,” Angel said.

Shelly gasped and frantically looked around. Seconds later, a swarm of Tropius filled the sky, some of which flew close enough for them to see the Vileplume and Breloom that rode on their backs. The soldiers had lances.

“Can’t you get rid of them? Use that blue energy attack again!” he cried.

“Sorry, no can do. That Aura Sphere took up my personal Bestia for the day, so I’ve got to recharge for a good while,” she said. Many of the Tropius caught up to them in no time and started shouting commands at each other. “You’re on your own, but you can do it.”

“I-I-I can’t fight them off. What can I do?” he shrieked.

“Tsk, I didn’t think they’d be this good. Okay, let’s try the forest,” Kusha said, and swerved hard to the right. Shelly was almost flung off again, but she cradled him by her front.

If his geography was right, then they headed straight into the large forested area that was to the right of the palace. While the Tropius flew above to stay out of the trees, he spotted a number of Whimsicott having no trouble skipping after them. The density of the woodland didn’t help, either. Kusha kept swerving side to side to avoid the trunks and couldn’t drive straight for more than a second or two.

“Erm,” he mused as he pondered a solution. None of them waited for him, though. As the Whimsicott drew closer, their whips snapped at them, and two struck Kusha’s back with a wicked crack. She yelped and glanced back, and then began to swerve even more to try and avoid them. “Kusha, what’re you doing?”

“Trying to get out!” she cried.

He held on as hard as he could, but everything was a head rush of chaos. The wind and blur of the area made him a bit dizzy, while sharp stings from their whips made him cringe even though he wasn’t the one being hit. And then before he realised it, he noticed two whips latched directly onto the sleigh. A third one came a moment later, and even he could tell they were slowing down.

“Oh gods, I hate to do this but I can’t do axe things right now. Shelly, you’ve got to do something!” Kusha cried, trying to focus on driving the sleigh.

“What can I do?” he said.

“Use a Pokémon attack, try and cut the whips, anything, I don’t care! We just need them off our tails,” she said. “And I don’t even have a tail! Thank the gods I don’t.”

Shelly gasped and then tried to focus. Three whips latched to the sleigh via the seat, while two more kept snapping at Kusha. Five Whimsicott glided after them, using the trees or their attachment to the sleigh to stay in perfect pursuit. If they swerved too much now, they would get tangled up and crash. Trying to hit them with Water Gun was an obvious no no too, knowing his accuracy.

Treasure Orb, please work,” he thought as he brought out the large orb. He held it high and then jammed a hand inside, praying to pull something that could cut off the whips. Instead, he retrieved a smaller orb, and gasped as it activated.

A bright light formed around Shelly, Kusha, and the sleigh in a flash, and then they were gone. The Whimsicott who were latched on via their whips were left flying forward with no control at all, and screamed just before slamming into the nearest tree. The remaining two were surprised, but kept up the chase.

The duo reappeared after a moment in a daze, but got control of themselves quickly. Kusha laughed and leaned forward eagerly. “Warp Orb? Nice quick thinking!”

“I didn’t do that!” he cried.

“Yes you did!” she said, glancing back. The other Whimsicott were catching back up. “Two left. You can do it, Shelly!”

He dug into the orb again, but this time he rummaged for something he could recognise rather than taking a lucky dip. There were crunches, something smooth, and then something firm and thick, like a rope. He pulled, and out came a rope net that was far heavier than he anticipated. He accidently let go as soon as it came out of the orb, but that was enough to fling it into the air right in the Whimsicott’s way.

“Rope nets, too? That thing’s convenient,” Kusha said. “We’ve got the Tropius coming up, so maybe one more time. You can do it, partner!”

Those words fired him up. He was nervous, but fired up. So he stuck his hand in one more time, and the moment he felt something he could grip, he pulled back. Out came a bright blue orb with a curious pattern of lighter blue swirls on it. He was surprised when they stopped swerving, and the scenery quickly changed to the open fields between the village and the forest.
Spurn_Orb_artwork_RTDX.png

“We’re already here?” he gasped. The army of Tropius were all over the sky, dozens of leafy giants tearing through the sky so aggressively that it sounded like a storm was brewing. Many of them dove toward him too, and he screamed.

“Go ahead and use it. Don’t think about it, just use it!” Kusha said.

Shelly choked but obeyed. He shut his eyes and cast the orb up high to activate it, and it flashed with a bright glow of swirly light. The light quickly faded into a dusty sparkle, and then the Tropius began to vanish. They were being warped away in the same light as when the Warp Orb activated earlier.

“That’s a Spurn Orb? Three out of three luck, look at you go,” Kusha said with a light laugh.

“Spurn Orb? Wait a minute, but that’ll—”

Just as suddenly as earlier, the duo were warped away again. A flash of blue blinded them, and then they were speeding through the village. Seconds away from slamming into a wall, they screamed at the top of their voices.

At the last moment, Kusha scooped up Shelly, inhaled until she didn’t fit in the seat, and then threw herself out the back of the sleigh. It smashed into a tree stump and exploded into a fiery blast, the force of which sent her ballooned form flying through the village. Shelly had his eyes shut and kept screaming, while she held him and her axe tight. With careful spins and flips, she managed to claw her axe into another tall stump, where it tore through the wood until it stopped their momentum enough for her to get control of herself.

Shelly was surprised enough to open his eyes when he felt himself bounce on something soft, but he still shivered and cried out. It took what felt like half a minute before he realised that the rubbery thing he was bouncing on was her belly. He gasped continuously as he steadied himself, and then shivered as he looked over to see that it was her. Thankfully, she gave him a silly smile, yet he couldn’t help but blush and try to look away.

It calmed him a bit, seeing her shiny, rounded cheeks obscure a wriggly smile. Her face stayed the same size too, so now it looked small compared to the rest of her. She deflated with a steady breath in his face, making him recoil.

“Okay, now I get why you’re so apprehensive about that technology,” she laughed it off. “You meant to tell me that stuff used by the Treasure Orb affects the enemies as well as the user? What a kink.”

“Tha-that wasn’t what I meant b-but, er… A-aye, that happens. I think,” he said. “Were those orbs not supposed to work on us?”

“Warp and Spurn Orbs only work on feral Pokémon nearby who aren’t part of your tea- oh right, that could be it, too. We don’t have rescue team badges or anything, so the orbs might’ve just mistaken us,” Kusha said, swaying side to side. She stopped and nodded. “Well, it doesn’t matter. We made it to the rendezvous point and the soldiers are nowhere to be found. We’re home free.”

Her way of talking completely changed,” Shelly thought. “We destroyed the sleigh, though.”

“I’d have loved to have kept it too, but that’s all part of the risks,” she said. Shelly remained slumped, and moaned a little. “Hey c’mon, Your Highness, eyes forward. You’ve got all the exciting stuff to look forward to. You’re out in the village on your own again.”

He looked up at that, and only now realised that the Eyedrop Seed had worn off, yet he could still see. The village at night was peaceful incarnate, even with the fire of their crash smoking somewhere in the background behind the rows of tree stumps. Not a single Pokémon was awake or around, and the only sounds were the wind and the two of them.

How didn’t anybody wake up?” he thought as he began looking for other Pokémon. He remembered the treehouses up high and looked to those, where he noticed the full moon, high and bright in the sky. His eyes glistened, and he gawked. “The moon… is really pretty out here.”

“It is. And you’re going to get to see so much more,” Kusha said, and held his hand to walk together. He glanced side to side, but with no one around to question it, accepted her offer. “I shouldn’t be excited about your journey, but I really am. There’s a lot you’re going to get to see for the first time.”

“Och, I was supposed to do this with Elise,” he gasped and glanced back. “She’s going to be mad when she finds out I left without her.”

Kusha swayed her head and again. “You’re really close to her, aren’t you?”

“We-we’re married. I have to do everything with her, don’t I?” he said.

“The fact that you’re questioning says everything. Now I’m not married myself, but I’m one hundred percent certain that that’s not how it works,” she said. His face twisted in surprise. “Plus, you’re really young to be married, you know? And you’re only just about to start living.”

“I’m… only just? Huh?” He tilted his head. “I don’t get what you’re saying.”

She stopped, noting that his grip grew a little tighter. “I’m saying… uh, look. I don’t want to plant ideas in your head, I want to leave all this up to you and stuff.”

“Uh… huh?” he replied, still confused.

She giggled. They came to a stop by the very edge of the island, where the grass met a coastal cliff. Heroica was a hazy island in the distance, layered with mountains, greenery, and a teensy bundle of warm, glittering lights in the middle. Between them and Heroica, a quiet ocean sparkled in the moonlight. The view made his eyes glisten again.

“You’re going to Heroica, Shelly. On a journey to save the world. You’re going to meet all kinds of Pokémon, with different species, types, accents, weapons, jobs, ways of life. Other boys and girls, and everything in between,” she said. “You’ll get to try all kinds of food, and hear all kinds of music, and make all sorts of friends! Pokémon like me, nothing like the stuffy girls at the castle.”

“Somebody remind her this ain’t a holiday,” Angel said from within the amulet. Shelly smiled at the comment.

“I think this’ll be good for you. A water type growing up in a kingdom of grass types, it’s way past time you met more of your species. But also, marriage really isn’t a light thing, you know?” Kusha said. Her voice became soft. “Love’s a magical, complex feeling. When two Pokémon who love each other more than anything in the world realise that about each other, they choose to spend their lives together. That’s marriage. And… from what I see and hear, I don’t think you and Elise have that.”

Shelly looked up at her, and she started sweating. “A-again, I don’t wanna put thoughts in your head or anything. I just think, you two are way too young to understand that kind of commitment to each other. Or what’s really going on with your arranged marriage and stuff. Because really and truly, nothing about it is right.”

Shelly moaned a bit and slumped. “A-Angel was sort of saying the same thing. I don’t really get it, but is it really that bad that I’m with Elise?”

“As long as you’re Gladys’ kids, then yes. But in general, it’s far from healthy that a kid your age is in a situation like this,” Kusha said. “Just, someday, you could meet another Pokémon, and it’s like, you really like the look of them, or the way they act, or just… it’s important to choose who you get feelings for.”

“This is really confusing,” he said, rubbing his head.

“Ah, I’m not explaining well, either. Just, while I’m taking you to Fossil Hill and stuff, be totally honest with yourself, okay? You don’t need to worry about what Elise wants or thinks, or what Gladys wants you to do anymore. You can do whatever you want to do,” she said.

“Wait, you’re taking me to Fossil Hill?” he said.

“Well yeah, I said I could. I’ll stick with you as long as I can. I’ve made that my duty,” she said, and patted her chest. “Speaking of, the rendezvous is late. What say we set off now, huh?”

“How? Do you have a boat?” he said. “The sleigh would’ve been fun, if it could go over water.”

“Why use a sleigh when you’ve got a balloon right here?” she said, and inflated herself again. “Hop on, hero!”

He laughed a little, and put his hands together. “Can I really? We can fly all the way to Heroica?”

“And you’ll be the captain. So hop aboard before the Tropius come back,” she said. He climbed up at first, and then realised how rubbery and bouncy her body was while inflated. So he bounced his way up her back instead, and stopped by the tuft on her head. “All settled down? Then let’s go!”
 
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canisaries

voted most likely to be edgy
Location
the middle of nowhere
Pronouns
she/her
Partners
  1. custom/inkay-shirlee
Hello there! I've read Shelly Episode 1, which I think you meant for me to look at (you didn't give me a number). As this is not the first chapter in the thread, I will probably be missing some context that chronological readers would have, but I'll trust your confidence in submitting this and assume this is possible to review fairly in a vacuum.

I also remember that my previous review did not go over all that well, so I want to stress that I'm simply giving my honest opinions and attempting to be constructive about them. You've mentioned wanting to write as a living, so I just want to say the things I think may help you get better in telling the stories you want to tell.

So definitely my favorite things here are the setting and its ideas. It makes perfect sense for a grass-type kingdom to have a palace with a glass ceiling, and I dig the mood-leaf everyone(?) has, though I'm not sure what the motive behind using them is - an oath of honesty? Anyway, it also makes sense that grass-types aren't really aware of how a non-grass-type could be vulnerable to strong sunlight. It's a little weird that Shelly hasn't brought that up before, but I suppose he is pretty shy.

I also like Kusha haha kush and how she's strong but polite. As an extension, I'm also a fan of all the female knights. It makes sense within a grass-type kingdom as a few grass lines are all-female, and generally pokémon seem equal in strength between sexes, so there's no argument of "optimization" or what have you.

There are a couple of things I take issue with in this chapter, though. First and foremost, it seems that you have a marriage between two children of fifteen years of age. I'm pretty sure that most people here will find that uncomfortable, especially as it's never questioned in-story, so I would really add that to the content warnings. I don't count it as being covered by "dark themes" since it's not portrayed as dark whatsoever and generally people wouldn't know to expect child marriage from "dark themes" anyway.

Then it also seems that these children are adoptive siblings (given the mother calls Shelly "son"), which to me is pretty disturbing. While it's not incest by blood, it's still pretty close, and I think it warrants a tag.

In addition to these two, the character of Elise feels harassing and abusive towards Shelly. Shelly has shown no romantic interest towards her, but she's very overbearing in her affection and jealousy to the point where she does not want him to interact with other women in any sort of affectionate manner no matter how platonic it is. Consider how this would appear if the genders were swapped: a woman not interested in a man, but she's been made to marry him, and this man keeps forcing affection on her and does not want her to see other men. That's a pretty terrifying situation to be in. Just because the genders are swapped doesn't make it less abusive to me, and portraying it as harmless or comedic actually comes across as kind of sexist, as if saying that women are too inconsequential to cause trauma to men and that men are always willing anyway so they can't have their rights violated. You can have a relationship like this in your story, but you have to take into consideration how it appears and how it meshes with the rest of the tone.

To move onto something more technical, I think this chapter is held back by a lack of stakes and investment in the characters. Conflict is the foundation of story, but here our problems seem rather small. It doesn't feel like our protagonists' lives have much to better about them, nor is there a danger of them getting much worse. The characters also, for the most part, don't have strong motivations that would guide them or set a direction for the story. Shelly has some of it when he's overwhelmed by the crowd, and it's the most engaging part of the chapter for me precisely because of the inner struggle. I think putting more weight on his social phobia would make for a more engaging read and make the reader more interested in this character in general, which is something important for an introductory chapter to do.

I've gathered some quote comments inside the spoiler below:

“Sheeelly? Oh Sheeelly? Oh where has that laddie gone off to now?” a Steenee called out in a sing-song tone.

I looked at my previous review on your writing and I brought it up there so I won't get deep into it here, but your prose tends to lack some commas that should grammatically be there in dialogue.

“Princess Elise?” a Vileplume called out. She had a long lance latched to her side.

I am ESL, but this reads to me like she had a lance skewering her rather than her just carrying it.

Bayleef were built like they had muscles

They don't? I mean, I guess if you're going with all-plant. Just never encountered that take before.

She carried weapons, too: a short sword and a one-handed shield shaped like an Oshawott’s scalchop.

Weapons are cool, but I don't get why she's carrying them around inside the palace, or why she really has them at all if they're guarded at all times.

“Isn’t that great? We can finally leave the palace and stuff!” Elise threw her arms up. “Shelly! The first thing we gotta do is have a picnic. I’ve always wanted to have a picnic in the fields with you!”

“I want to see everywhere, too. I can finally see what’s behind those hills I can see from the lookout,” he said. His eyes gleamed as he thought of the possibilities. “We can get close to the ocean. And go to the village. And all that stuff behind the palace, too! Like that really cool foggy mountain—”

“Er, hold on there. The places behind the palace… aren’t for you. Those remain off-limits to you. Especially the misty region. Stay well away from there, please.” Gladys leaned forward in her throne.

Gladys' line here initially reads as being said by Elise. Moving the mention of her leaning forward in her throne to be before her line would solve this.

“I had a few of our soldiers pretend to be villains to test you and Kusha.

They weren't really villains, though? The soldiers said they wanted to test the kids' strength since it was dangerous out there, and this is exactly what the queen wanted to do.

“Well they are a male water type.

I'm not sure why he's referred to as a they here when everyone knows he's a he and even the sentence itself says he is male.

“I can actually go here,” he whispered again. He had seen all this many times before from the lookout, but being out amongst it all was invigorating. The way the grass tickled his feat, and the sun’s heat felt natural rather than amplified by the greenhouse’s glass, it made his heart race.

This is a nice moment and fleshed Shelly out more in my eyes. His amazement at this new opportunity makes him feel much more humble than compared to him simply casually going to new places and back. "Feet" is typoed, though.


He hesitated. He hadn’t thought about it, but now that he was, he felt like he could eat a Zubat.

I didn't really get this phrase. I mean, I can tell from context that it's about him being very hungry, but "he felt like he could eat X" is usually used with "a horse", meaning you would eat something very large, and Zubat is pretty small. It could be that a Zubat is kind of gross or unconventional, but it's still in the realm of possibility enough that it wasn't obvious to me. Had he said he could eat a Grimer, that would have been a different story entirely.

“Waah!” Shelly shrieked and shifted back.

I don't know how subjective this is, but to me it's always better to try to keep vocalizations like screams and such in narration rather than dialogue. Writing them out seems kind of... immature, somehow.

“Your Gospel Vibe is purple,” she sung.

This is name is very strange to me - - but I don't know the full story, so I'll move past it.

“Oh no… did you pee?” Elise went into a thought pose.

I can kind of visualize what you meant by "thought pose", but it does not sound like a real phrase at all. It makes the emotion sound more like some kind of emote animation your video game avatar could do, and that paints them in a light of unreality which is not good for reader connection.

I also have to mention that this remark is somewhat uncomfortable to me, knowing the connection between cute furry characters and bodily fluids all too well, though other readers' reactions may vary.

That does it for my thoughts. Good luck with writing onward, and see you around.
 
Brine Episode 1: A Project In The Desert

SGMijumaru

Hero in their dreams
Location
London
Pronouns
They/them, She/her,
Banner Brine complete - Copy.png

Brine Episode 1: A Project In The Desert


The centre of Heroica is renowned for being a treacherous desert. Despite that, civilised Pokémon settled very close to that desert in towns and even a city. Perhaps these settlements were intended as respite for travellers who would dare to trek through the harsh sands. Or perhaps they’re there to police and contain the feral Pokémon who live in the desert.

But now, there was a plan to change that. A little ways into the central desert, about half a day’s march from Heroica’s capital of Girage Fields, a settlement was being built. Slowly constructed by no more than two Pokémon, too…







“That should do it for today, don’t you think?” Brine said. The Pikachu was sat back on the wooden frame of a tall house, where she looked down at a Muk who gathered a few more planks. Despite the house being in the middle of construction, held together by mere ropework, she leisurely kicked her feet and rocked the wood.

“We’ll be done quicker if you helped!” the multicoloured sludge Pokémon replied. He had to look for her, and raised a slimy fist when he spotted her. “Get down from there before you break my hard work!”

“I’m too light for that,” she said with a sigh, and twirled her sea blue scarf in a paw. She stretched her legs and then slid down anyway. “Besides, we’re almost out of rope and that stuff you put on the sand. We’re not gonna get much further today even if we keep going.”

“So are you gonna head into the city to get those things or are you just gonna sit around telling me what we can’t do?” Muk replied without looking at her. He lifted a heap of wooden planks and slid over to an area made of cobblestone, where he laid them next to piles of other building materials. Several other frames of structures were around them.

“No need to be rude about it. It’s like you want me to leave earlier,” Brine rolled her eyes.

“Because ever since you got that amulet, you’ve slowed productivity by seventy-five percent. It’s almost like I’m the only one doing the work around here!” Muk raised a fist again.

“Scar. It’s been one day. And I didn’t spend half of that day arguing with Angel into not leaving so that I could spend it doing nothing. But at some point you’ve got to realise that it’s unfair for a Pokémon like me to spend this long in a desert,” Brine said. “I’m already risking my hide going back and forth between the city for you, money or not.”

He slid over quickly and pointed a drippy finger. “You’re fifty percent risking your hide just being alive, and you know it.”

She folded her arms and looked away. That one stung. Not because it was true, but because she knew he knew it would sting. Thankfully he seemed to catch that thought without words, and his angry pose turned into a pleading one.

“What I mean to say is, that’s what makes me appreciate your help all the more,” he said. His sludge seemed to flow down him a little quicker, as if he was sweating. “I have a one percent chance to stop you from having that journey, so perhaps it is best that this be the last day. I have this awful feeling that that Angel fellow of yours might do something underhanded to push their point, and I don’t want to be held responsible for that.”

“Just be honest instead of patronising.” Brine rolled her eyes again. He squinted at her, and then slowly made his way over to the cobblestone area again, where he retrieved a pouch and a few other goods. The pouch vanished into his body as he brought it over to her, so she was wary to accept it.

“I say to make this the last delivery request. Put in the order for as much as you can buy with this, and then return to me here. Then you can be on your way as a Shining Warrior,” Scar said, trying to force the pouch into her paws. When she eventually took it, she fell forward from the weight. “I can’t stop you from being a warrior. As much as it pains me to be alone again, what has to be done, has to be done! Whilst I must build this village in the desert, you must wander the planet. This is one hundred percent fate!”

“Please don’t try to sound righteous. It’s weird coming from you,” she said as she hung the pouch over her shoulder.

“Go. Try to be back before the end of the day. That will allow us to prepare you properly for your trip over the evening. In fact! Take two thousand of that Gald and use it to buy yourself necessities. And don’t worry if you go a little overboard. It’s the least I can do,” he said. He moved to pat her, but she slid away.

“Now there’s something I can appreciate. And don’t you go getting yourself hurt or buried in quicksand again while I’m gone. I know what you’re like,” she said.

“Tell me, what do you expect me to do whilst you’re away for many hours?” he said, rising up tall.

She raised a finger to answer, but one look around silenced her. They were surrounded by tall hills of sand on all but two sides, while the few structures they had set up looked like they could fall apart if the wind blew too hard. They were miles from the oasis, too.

“Just don’t try to do anything you know takes two Pokémon.” She smiled cheekily.

She headed deeper into the settlement, where the sand sloped and a corner could be turned around one of the hills. Her few belongings were here: a drawstring backpack, a hood with a sea blue theme like her scarf, and her weapon of choice, a kendama. She wore the hood so that it totally shaded her face, though it didn’t have holes for her ears, so they poked out the front. Meanwhile, her kendama could poke out of the money pouch for easy access. Then she fastened her fur-tight bracelets, patted her cheeks, and posed with fists raised high. She was coming back, so her actual bag of belongings could wait until later.

“Okay Brine. You can do this. One last run for duty’s sake,” she whispered to herself, and hopped a few times.

She waved to Scar as she left, who shouted something. It didn’t matter to her, now. Once she was on this horrible desert trip, she had to focus or else. The blazing heat that turned up the moment she left their half-built village would be all over her for hours, and no amount of shady hoods or water biology would save her from its wrath.

It had been about a month since she came across that strange Muk. She knew the species as a toxic, trash eating species or something like that, so having an unusual one that looked and acted – no, was different to the rest of its species, resonated with her. But the difference she learned soon after meeting him was that he was segregated by choice, not by his colour or features.

He was too strange to pass up, though. He was a madman who wanted to build a village in the desert, where normal Pokémon not suited to desert life could live. Something about that wild ambition drove her to stick with him for a month or so. But then, yesterday happened.

Angel had shown up. The Togekiss was argumentative about Brine leaving the desert to meet the other warriors, but she knew better than to listen to any old Pokémon, legend or not. She couldn’t refuse the amulet, so she’d chosen to ignore it for as long as possible and continue helping Scar. She would feel too guilty leaving him to build in the desert alone.

She’d had been on all fours while she was lost in that memory, and stopped to stand up and address that. Sand made her forepaws itchy and blisteringly hot, though she didn’t feel it until now. She sighed and pulled her scarf away a bit to reveal her amulet. She had to tear her eyes away though, and resumed her trip.

Without looking at them, she channelled her powers to cure her paws of their burns. Her bracelets glowed for a moment, and then small bubbles of water appeared over her paws. The water soaked back into her after a short while, but just that dip was enough for her to feel better.







“After her! She’s wasting Bestia!”

“What kinda Pikachu uses water like that, anyway? That wasn’t even Surf!”

“She must be one of them half-breed freaks. Kill her like the rest!”

It was like routine. A routine she hated more than anything, but had no reason to accept. Every time she went to a town, the moment a Pokémon or two saw how she handled water, it wouldn’t be long before she was chased by a crowd with bladed weapons. In her latest escapade, she at least had the benefit of rainy weather on her side.

It was only a small village with cobble roads and fields surrounding it. A few uses of her powers to help out Pokémon around the village had resulted in the whole population chasing her. Or at least, that’s what it felt like.

With all the open space to run around in, she didn’t have to worry about accidentally destroying a building or something like she did in the past. Sprinting on all fours, her bracelets flashed and rainwater began to swarm around her in thick streams. A moment later, she was submerged in a beam of water that sped across the land faster than any of her attackers could hope to keep up with.

She glanced back to see their figures fade into the distance, and laughed. The moment she did, water forced its way down her throat and she choked, dispelling her powers completely. With all that momentum, she rolled forward while coughing and sputtering, and ended up splashing headfirst into a swampy puddle somewhere in the middle of the fields. She was so frantic to get up and brush that mud out of her eyes that she slipped and fell right back in, where it felt like it went up her nose this time.







The miserable thought made her cringe, hard. “Stop thinking about it. Just stop thinking about it, Brine.”

She slowly faced forward. The city, Girage Fields, was in clear sight in the distance. With a sigh, she hugged herself and trekked onward. She couldn’t afford for this next trip to end the same way.

Hours passed before she got there. Her face was drenched in sweat, sand itched her sides, and all the other annoyances of a desert trip plagued her form. But despite the trials of the desert being over, she didn’t feel like she had respite. Nothing about a populated place could ever feel relieving.

Girage Fields was a huge prairie dotted with towering buildings and a colourful range of facilities. Well, that’s what she could tell of it. There were always a lot of different types of Pokémon around, and all of them were happy to crowd around the fancy looking shops. Flocks of Pidgey and Pidove gathered on rooftops, while bulky, evolved Pokémon like Machoke, Samurott, and Vigoroth took to the streets. The actual structures were no better than the usual Pokémon-shaped wood and straw houses of the many villages she’d been to, but their size and height earned this place the title of city.

Don’t get distracted now. Just got to get those materials and get out, Brine.” She shook her head and stormed off, only to immediately crash into a Larvitar, and two of them nearly fell over.

She heard him curse so she twisted to apologise, but he didn’t pay her any mind, to her surprise. At that, a whole crowd were gathering around a stage that had been set up in a clear square, loudly chattering to each other. She put a finger to her lip and watched as staff appeared on stage to set up a megaphone and some decorations, and then shook herself.

Forget it, Brine. With all of them there, it gives me a chance to shop in peace,” she said to herself. But then it looked like the whole city had shown up to watch whatever was happening, so her curiosity got the better of her. She stopped to watch the stage from a distance with a furrowed brow. The show started when a quirky Flygon showed up.

“Wait, what’s up with them?” Brine whispered, and folded her arms.

The Flygon was tangled up in a sash engraved with old runes and markings, yet they didn’t seem to trip over themselves in any way. The sash started from somewhere and went around their neck, then over a wing, around their tail a few times, then the opposite arm, and even their hair. Whatever this erratic design choice was, it didn’t hinder the Flygon at all.

“Attention, attention please. Settle down now, Pokémon. Allow me to introduce myself to you, first,” Flygon said. She had the perfect voice for giving speeches: grand, loud, and smooth. Fittingly, the crowd went quiet and faced her. Brine folded her arms. “My name is Panzer. You will not have ever heard of me, but that is fine. I am usually a professor that obsesses over fieldwork in the wild, uninhabited ruins of Heroica’s uncharted. I’m here today only to deliver great news of importance to you all.”

The crowd started chattering again, but were silenced by a few tall metal pokemon who joined her on stage. They were bipedal and humanesque, but clothed so densely that she couldn’t make out any sort of skin or fur, or even their eyes. Each one held a different weapon in their claws, from swords, to lances, to axes, and more. Brine stayed in a corner to try and keep out of general sight, but the moment she saw those metal clad creatures, she shifted. “What in the world are those?

“Perhaps some of you are already aware, but it appears that a new generation of Shining Warriors have been chosen. I’ve received reports of those with genuine amulets walking Heroica. The legend has begun once again. In time, our powers will return, and this dulling world will grow into the prosperous, natural wonderland it once was,” Panzer said, and the crowd started up again. She cleared her throat to regain their attention, and then began to pace the stage as she spoke.

“As good as this news is, there are those who seek to plunge this world into chaos and darkness, however. We must beware of those vile Pokémon and stand against them! If you ever meet a warrior with an amulet, you must do what you can to help them. We cannot afford for our warriors to perish again. Lend them your home for rest, your assistance, fight alongside them, help to guide them on their way where necessary, and root out those would do wrong unto them. These are the simplest ways in which we can help.”

What’s her point? You’re telling me she actually wants to help us?” Brine cocked her head.

“As a researcher of ancient legends and happenings, it has come to my attention that this is not the only event set to befall our generation, however. I must ask you all to trust me, and remain calm,” Panzer continued. She twirled a loose end of her sash around a nail. “This event is a great calamity – it does not bode well. Only the Shining Warriors can stop it. So me and my allies are doing the one thing we can do to prepare for it, besides sharing this news to you all.”

A few mutterings here and there. Pokémon seemed to be interested.

“On the westernmost edge of Heroica, we are constructing a fortress, the Citadel Stadium. In this place, we will have full control over this event as it befalls our world. From the citadel, we will be able to view the calamity, as well as have the power and position to stop it! But our time is severely limited. We must complete the citadel in a very short space of time. And so, my last request for today is to recruit able bodied Pokémon with knowledge or experience in and surrounding construction. Please come to me and the knights after this. This is a job offering where we need as many Pokémon as is available, so expect great pay and worry not about competition. We need you all.” Panzer said. She bowed gracefully, and the loose parts of her sash flowed around her even though there wasn’t any wind. “Thank you very much for your time today, busy Pokémon. Merely listening has meant a lot.”

“Hold up, ya big hooligan!” a gruff voice shouted. A Tyrantrum shoved his way to the front of the crowd. A Tyranitar and a Rillaboom were close behind, angrily growling at him. “Ya can’t just go settin’ off everybody’s worries with a big ol’ warnin’ of some great calamity stuff like that and not drop any proof. And we’re just supposed ta take ya word for that the Shining Warriors are a thing too, huh?”

“Proof, huh? You mean evidence.” Panzer tapped her chin and swayed side to side. She slowly walked to the edge of the stage and struck a dynamic pose, pointing into the distance. Specifically, the desert Brine had just come from. “My research yields accurate forecasts! And my latest forecast says that in the Teriyaki Desert, a Bestia Fountain will awaken. A large dragon from an unknown world will descend to prey upon the ferals of that region. This will happen as early as tomorrow morning. Defeating that dragon will be the Shining Warrior’s trial for this generation!”

“Uh, lady? You’re still just spoutin’ stuff,” Tyrantrum said. Even the Pokémon that were angry at him had ceased in confusion.

“I am aware this must seem like unfounded rubbish to you. In fact, I do not expect you to believe it right away. All I ask is that you keep that forecast in mind, and look to that area tomorrow. If you see that I am correct, then I should hope you would help me in building the Citadel. I will stay here for two days, and look forward to gaining the help and trust of burly Pokémon like you,” Panzer said, and bowed to them. “Thank you for your time today.”

Brine took off the moment the crowd began to disband, and then melded into it. “Like it’s possible to predict Bestia Fountains opening up. That Pokémon didn’t look like an angel, either. Whatever, it’s probably just another big city publicity stunt.

Before she could think on that further, she was bumped from behind and shoved into a Lairon, who then kicked her aside. She almost fell over, but a bench broke her fall. “Ugh. This is why I hate this place.”

She had to stand up on the bench to get even a decent look at where she was going. The way Pokémon poured out in and out of buildings and filled these wide paths, it looked like she was going to get pushed wherever they wanted to go rather than wherever she wanted. The only option was to dive into this river of bulky species, let them shove her along, and hope for the best. How does a place so unfair to smaller Pokémon continue to function?

Now if Scar were the one doing this instead,” she thought to herself as she shuffled along the wall behind the benches. The material shop she needed wasn’t too far from here, only a straight run to the end of this road and then left. The crowds moved in one direction without any written rule to do so, so she always had to find a different way to leave the city.

Twenty minutes of bumping and bashing later, and she was there: Gurdurr’s Construction. She never understood how it worked, but the big guy had a whole plot of land dedicated to his shop smack bang in the middle of the city. A hut in the shape of a Conkeldurr’s face sat at the front of a massive area closed off by a sturdy metal fence, where one could see gigantic piles of steel, wood, and floor materials that stretched for acres. The area was always dusty and peach coloured, a complete opposite to the soft colours and fields of the rest of the city. But you always got what you wanted when you came here, so she never questioned that contrast.

“If you think I’m shutting down my business because a bunch of metal clods say so outta nowhere, you’ve got another thing coming!” a gruff voice shouted as she walked in. “Do you have any idea how hard I have to work just to barely make ends meet? And now you’re gonna try and shut me down for what, some silly nerd’s fantasy fears? Get real!”

Brine slowed down and hid. A group of four of those metal Pokémon from the stage show had confronted the Gurdurr and Timburr running the place. They exchanged glances and then bowed. “We are only suggesting this as a safety procedure due to the circumstances. Believe us or not, it is fact that the Shining Warriors have awakened, and their activity will greatly change the terrain of the land.”

“Master Gurdurr. The locations on the sheet are the only places left that are safe to build on. Building anywhere else risks the safety of lives,” another metal Pokémon said, and tapped his lance on the floor. “You have been warned. With that, we shall leave you.”

She had to squeeze against the wall as they marched out, and then warily made herself known. Gurdurr had openly aggressive movements until he noticed her. “Gah! Sorry about that, assuming you saw it all.”

“I didn’t see much. What happened?” She strolled in.

“They want to restrict my team from building since they’re trying to predict where the Bestia Fountains will appear. But I just got a ton of material, and lots of Pokémon are lookin’ to buy. I can’t just brush them off because of some kids playing hero!” he said, stomping around the room. He slammed his iron girder on the floor so hard that the whole building shook. “This shit happened last time! Those stupid heroes costing me a fortune without doing a damn thing for me.”

Brine was hesitant to comment. The Shining Warriors being held in low regard wasn’t new to her, but now that she was one, the indirect rage hit different. “I-I’m sure they’re just taking precautions. Just, y’know, if it did turn out to be true, it wouldn’t be a very nice mistake to make.”

“It’s a very big if. I know from last time, anyway. Pokémon told me to help ‘em out, so I did. Gave ‘em a whole chunk of hard weapons and treasures, even Derris Ore. That shit sells for a fortune!” He slammed his girder again. His fists cracked and veins throbbed. “I thought it was fishy that they kept coming back, but I thought I’d be the nice guy, play hero’s helper and all that. Next thing I hear, they’re living the high life, drinking and partyin’ down at the lounge!”

They were partying? Instead of doing Shining Warrior stuff?” Brine cocked her head.

“Can ya believe it? Shining Warriors, prophesized to bring back our powers and all that, cheating me off and selling my treasures for waste money. I expect that shit from the Impidimp, not mature-ass Pokémon like that,” he said.

Could he have been cheated by imposters? If the Shining Warriors were goofing off, Angel would have stopped them, surely?” Brine rubbed her chin. “Anyone would be upset if that happened to them, Shining Warriors or not. That’s a real waste.”

“Right? I’ma continue on the way I do things now, anyway. If they show up, then they show up; I’m not gonna treat them any different from any old Pokémon. Until we get our Pokémon attacks back, Gurdurr Construction has gotta do what it’s gotta do!” he said, and threw a fist up high. “Which brings us back to business. What’cha here for, Brine?”

“Oh, er, I came for another boost for Scar’s thing. I don’t have a list this time because he wanted to get everything you could spare,” she said, handing him the money pouch.

“That old village in the desert stunt? You guys’re mad, but you’re paying and you’re not comin’ back with broken bits and complaints, so… something must be happening,” he said as he stuck his nose in the pouch and rummaged around. He rubbed his chin with a finger and wandered over to the back door. “This is pretty hefty. A whole twenty-eight thousand gald. Tell ya what. I’ll count up what this can get ya and then bring it over to your site later, personal delivery and all.”

“That’s a really big help, but won’t you be leaving your shop unguarded?” Brine gasped.

“It’s the least I can do for ya. You’ve been a regular for a while now, and you listened to an angry old fool rant, haw haw haw!” he said, and smacked his chest. “Ya hear that, Timburr boys? We’ve got an evening’s worth of heavy liftin’ to do! Let’s get to work!”

Timburr popped out from behind desks, doors, or other corners of the office, and cheered with a raise of their fists or wood blocks. The positivity made her relax and smile a bit, so she bowed to him. “Thank you, sir.”

“Aw, don’t get all formal on me. Just come back in a few hours and let me know if the list of materials and stuff is OK, alright?” he said with an eager snicker.

She waved him goodbye and was off, after that. That went smoothly, but his rant kept repeating in her head. Not that she knew who the old Shining Warriors were, but the idea that Pokémon chosen to be heroes would flaunt their status to party instead of being heroes. It was hard to believe. At least, she knew she would never do anything like that.

Or did this count as messing around? Not listening to Angel and carrying on with the construction of the desert village. The potential began to gnaw at her, and she clutched the amulet by her chest. “Why me? What could I have that could possibly make me a Shining Warrior?

She sighed as she looked out at the crowded streets. “Not looking forward to fighting this one again. Maybe some food ought to calm me down and clear my head.

And back into the crowd she went. A river of conversations blurred together, while the Pokémon all seemed to be more restless than earlier. She noticed a lot more running and pushing, and a lot less cursing and complaining directed at her. There was no doubt, too – she kept hearing them mention the Shining Warriors. They were the talk of the town.

“Does that mean we’re gonna get our powers back again?”

“Only if they’re not lazy again. They were real party poopers last time.”

“I hope one of the warriors is hot. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a hot warrior wife?”

“Get real! Like they’d wanna settle with a bug type like you.”

“I wonder who’d waste time hunting the warriors?”

“The way the underworld works, you’d probably get paid a fortune for killing them.”

Even an hour and a bit later when she sat down to eat, she couldn’t help but eavesdrop. She had never stopped to listen to the comments of the public before, mostly due to not caring about them. But now that they were talking about her, her heart twisted from the personal attacks. As she slowly chewed through a roll of pecha bread, she played with her amulet from behind her scarf. Her ears twitched irritably as the trio on the table behind her started up.

“What was that theory you came up with earlier? You said something about the Shining Warriors and celebrities,” Delcatty began.

“Oh, that. It was something my Dad told me. It sounded like garbage, but then the last Shining Warriors turned out to be those awful Pignite, right?” the Floatzel of the group replied.

“What’s this about now? Go on, I love your dad’s crazy conspiracy stuff,” Glaceon leaned on the table.

“Well, them Shining Warriors are supposed to be part of an ancient legend, right? But that legend’s ancient for a reason. Who out here genuinely believes in old mystery and magical stories nowadays?” Floatzel said with a snicker. “It’s all just some publicity stunt to make fake celebrities. They spread rumours to make up a legend, then everyone hails them as heroes before their story comes true. They get to eat like kings and get free stuff from everyone, while we work ourselves raw hoping to get powers we aren’t going to get.”

“That’s disgusting. You’re saying they’re using us?” Delcatty leaned back.

“Yeah. I thought it was bullshit too, but then we had the last set of heroes. I heard way too many stories about them to believe they were assholes. Drank like Wailmer, partied like Spinda, did nothing useful!” Floatzel said.

“Ugh, tell me about it. I heard they stole from Kecleon and stuff. The women looked pretty flaunty, too. Now that I think about it, what you said is probably what they were doing,” Glaceon said.

“How many guys do you think they got with to spread rumours that strong, though? It takes a lot to motivate a guy in a city like this.” Delcatty giggled.

“Oh, does it? How do you know that?” Glaceon said with a cheeky, half-lidded smirk.

“Oh please, don’t go spreading rumours about me, now. Do you know how many guys chat me up? They all want a touch of this fur coat,” she said.

“I kid, of course. Even if you did do that stuff, it’s hardly as despicable as those supposed Shining Warriors.” Glaceon said.

“You see what I mean, though?” Floatzel laughed. “That Flygon was probably in on the whole mess, too. Like, what was she even talking about? Forecasting a fountain or something?”

“Don’t look at me! All the stuff she said was weirder than she looked. She had all those creepy steel knights with the spears and swords and stuff on her side, too. Did you see them?” Glaceon hissed.

“I wonder if they’re part of the deal. There were loads of them, too. Would they really put in that much effort just to try and play us?” Delcatty said.

“You’d be surprised. They’re countryside Pokémon, right? Pretty sure they’re pretty good actors… and liars. Those old kids have got all sorts of silly folklore they grow up believing.” Floatzel said, and swished a paw through the air. “Whether it’s true or not, I’m not giving them a coin even if they kissed my feet.”

“Way to say it. Pokémon won’t ever be Pokémon again. Everybody knows that.” Delcatty nodded.

“Yeah. Wish they wouldn’t choose such a sensitive topic, too. Imagine getting so many Pokémon’s hopes up just to be a flaunty slag.”

By now, Brine’s paws were curled into fists and her head was an inch away from the table. She’d finished her bread mostly, though what was left of it had been crushed into crumbs. “Is this really what Pokémon think of the Shining Warriors?

She pushed her plate away and stood up fast, inciting a silence in the room. But she didn’t care. Some kind of adrenaline fuelled her. All she could think about was defending herself. She stood over the table those Pokémon were at with curled fists and a fierce frown. “Are you listening to yourselves right now?”

“Huh?” Floatzel replied. Brine grit her teeth. “What’s your problem?”

“I said, are you listening to yourselves right now?” Brine said firmly.

“Were you eavesdropping? I think that’s a bigger problem, lil’ lady,” Glaceon said.

“Didn’t you parents ever tell you not to listen to grownups when they’re talking?” Delcatty added.

“With your volume, kids would hear you even if they plugged their ears,” Brine said. “Either way, what’s with that attitude? Do you guys want Pokémon to get their powers back or what?”

“Oh, don’t tell me you actually believe that Shining Warrior jumbo?” Floatzel swished a paw through the air again. “Trust me, kid. You’re better off not believing in that crap. If your folks ever told you Pikachu could shoot electricity, that ain’t ever happening in your lifetime, ever.”

Brine shivered. She couldn’t pull her trigger too quickly, but she was very tempted to blast this whole group with water, right here and now. “Why do you think like that?”

“’Cos it’s true? I’m a big old Floatzel now, yet I ain’t never even seen a real Pokémon do a Water Gun or an Aqua Jet. Believing I could ever do something like that would be stupid!” he said. “So it really ticks me off that there’s a bunch of inconsiderate bastards out there hyping up everyone’s belief for freebies.”

“Ask yourself: if the Shining Warriors heard the way you guys were talking just now, do you think they would want to save you?” Brine raised her voice. The trio shifted back a little. “If everybody hates them without knowing who they are, why would they bother saving the world?”

“So what, you some kind of defender?” Glaceon said.

“I don’t think it’s very smart of you picking a fight, kid,” Delcatty added, standing over her.

She grit her teeth and clenched her fists tight to stand up to them, but the moment she felt her feet dampen, she gasped silently and froze. Her powers were coming out, and she just about hid them before it became obvious. “No, Brine. It’s not worth it.

She turned and stomped off, but the light splish sounds from where her water her appeared was unmistakable. Thankfully, it seemed the Pokémon ignored it, but she could still hear them as she stepped out.

“Tsk. Freaking weirdo,” Floatzel said.

“Probably has delusional parents. Gotta feel sorry for when reality hits,” Glaceon said.

Her mind was rushing. Clouded. She couldn’t hear anything but r=the cynical comments she’d heard all day. Hatred and untrue statements. Even the crowd seemed to have caught on to the aura around her, and she was able to walk through without bumping into anyone. Head down, fists at her sides, and a furious glare stuck on her face. She subconsciously headed back toward the desert, where the crowd grew thin and she got the space to stop.

She slowly looked up. The sun was soon to set, so its glare off the sand ahead wasn’t blinding. She still squinted at it, spotting wheel tracks. Gurdurr had already set off.

“This place,” she mumbled. “Pokémon may think that way in the city, but I still met Scar, and Gurdurr. Despite the impossible task, the lot of them are working together to try and build a village in the desert, of all places.

She slowly turned to face the city. Families and friends sat on benches to snack and chat, while flocks of flying types headed home from above. The shopkeepers stood out front, either taking in their display goods or chatting with what few potential customers they could get. Wherever she looked, things looked lively.

Maybe that’s why I’m a Shining Warrior. I’m the kind of idiot who’d still go through it all to help Pokémon like this. Scared of anything outside their comfortable norm. We’ve spent so long without our powers that we barely feel like magical creatures anymore,” she thought. She shook her head and slowly pulled her hood back. Her ears flicked right back into place. “Not everyone thinks this way, though. I just have to believe that. I wouldn’t have met Scar if that wasn’t true. And on top of that, I wouldn’t have been born.

That made her gasp. “That’s right. Most of these Pokémon don’t even know that Undine exist… how watermarked Pokémon come to be. But somewhere out there, there was a Pokémon that fell in love with an Undine, and gave birth to me. Somewhere, there are Pokémon open to accepting anything, even scary things they don’t know, and they can love those things. My journey is for those Pokémon…







That night, despite the busyness of the builders being around and Scar’s praise, Brine felt melancholic. This was the last time she fought the desert to get building stuff for the village. She didn’t think the feeling would hit as hard, yet here she was, wide awake in a sleeping bag staring up at the stars.

She dressed herself for the journey so that she could set off first thing in the morning. The hood was replaced by bright blue goggles, while her kendama now fit into a proper travel backpack. She had everything she needed for a trip around Heroica. Well, everything she could get to prepare.

Now that everything had become as quiet as howling wind across the desert sands, she couldn’t help but think of the possibilities. She knew nothing about the Shining Warriors other than the rumours of the old ones. This journey could either go smoothly, or disastrously.

Or it could be the same as her journey until she met Scar. She wouldn’t have a problem with that.

She turned on her side and sighed. “I don’t even know if I want to do this or not. I don’t want to seem lazy or entitled…

She was drawing shapes in the sand with a finger, and stopped. She couldn’t finish her own sentence. But she sat there and tried to, and kicked herself to her feet with a loud groan. “This whole thing is stupid!”

Wandering over to the sands, she quickly regretted getting out. It was freezing out here, enough to have to hug herself and shiver. It didn’t seem to be affecting Scar though, who to her surprise, was out by the opening to their enclose. “You’re awake?”

“Huh? That’s my line. You need to be rested for your departure. You’ll increase your chances by sixty percent if you sleep well,” he said with a fist raised high.

“Yeah yeah, doesn’t mean I can just do it,” she said, joining him. There was a lengthy silence. “Hey. You gonna be okay when I’m gone?”

“Bah, don’t start dropping that on me. I was perfectly fine even before you were here! Eighty percent done with this stuff. Production won’t slow when you’re away,” he said.

She turned to him with a furrowed brow. “When I met you, you hadn’t even started.”

“Ahem. I was eighty percent done with the preparations. Yes,” he said, scratching his head. She leaned back. She never knew he even had a head to scratch. “With Gurdurr and that lot here though, construction will go just as smoothly. Progress won’t stagger.”

“Hmpf. Nice to know you’re gonna miss me.” She rolled her eyes. Another pause. “Okay, this one’s serious.”

“Go ahead.”

“When I’m gone, don’t tell those guys that I’m watermarked. Don’t tell anyone that I’m watermarked. They can’t know about my powers, or that I was here, okay?” she said.

“That’s an unexpected tone for you,” he said. She glared at him seriously, so he grumbled and turned to the desert. “Your secret is safe with me. But once your journey begins and tales of your battles spread, it may become known. You’re aware of that, right?”

“Of course,” she said with a nod. “I just want to walk around without challenge for a while longer.”

Just then, the ring of a giant bell echoed across the sands. It was louder than an Exploud, yet smooth enough that it didn’t ring her ears. Each bong came about two seconds apart, and after the third ring, a gush of light flowed across the world.

Brine gasped and spun around to face the source of the light waves. There was no doubt that they came from somewhere deep in their enclose. “What’s?”

“Is something wrong?” Scar said.

“Can’t you hear that? Or see that?” she gasped. Scar didn’t react, so she groaned and ran off.

“Wait, where ya running?” he cried.

In the centre of the close, where the dunes grew tall enough to surround the village and cover it in shade, light was erupting out of the ground. Gurdurr and the Timburr were already there, but Brine pushed them aside.

“Brine! What’s going on, what is this?” Gurdurr said.

She couldn’t answer. She didn’t know. That bell kept ringing, and with it, a lake of bright blue light swirled and rippled into existence before her eyes. With each ring, a wave of light blew past her. And then the light burst from the ground in a towering pillar that engulfed them. She cried and shielded her eyes, but adjusted quickly.

Did we get teleported?” she gasped in her mind. The blue light had replaced the sandy floor below their feet, while waves of blue and white flowed across the background like an aurora. She could still see the dunes of the desert and the frames of their village in the distance, implying they hadn’t gone anywhere.

“This. I’ve seen this before. I am one hundred percent certain. This is a Bestia Fountain!” Scar said as he slid his way between them.

“A Bestia Fountain?” Brine and Gurdurr gasped. They exchanged glances, and then glared at Scar.

“Them knights gave me a warning, they said this area had the potential to be one. If you’re being serious, then… no, this has to be a trick!” Gurdurr raised his voice.

“No… Panzer said there’d be one in the desert,” Brine said quietly with a blank stare. The fighting type growled and closed his fists, but shivered hard.

“You’re serious? This is actually the trial site for one of them Shining Warriors?” he said slowly.

“I wouldn’t forget this glow. That blue light always signals the coming of some terrible monster,” Scar said.

“It actually happened… a Bestia Fountain actually opened up somewhere I was building,” Gurdurr whispered.

“Look alive! Something’s coming!” Brine said, facing forward.

From the deepest white of the light on the ground, a monster was in fact appearing. Brine stood back as she identified a thin but large, draconic body as it rose. Spiky wings adorned the tips of a jagged, purple body, and the creature roared as it pulled itself free. Its lower half wasn’t serpentine or bipedal like most dragon Pokémon she recognised, however. Instead, it was huge, round, and sported an comically large stinger. She almost thought it was a mutated Beedrill if not for its featureless, visor-like eyes and pink claws.

“What is that?” she whispered.

“Brine, this is your thing. It’s up to you,” Scar said. “Look! The amulet glows. It is time for you to do your duty.”

“Wait, you’re a Shining Warrior? Is that why this thing is here?” Gurdurr cried.

“I seriously don’t know the answer or what’s going on here at all,” she said, glancing at her amulet. It glowed brightly, and the symbol of a sword had appeared inside of it. She spun to pull her kendama free and then leaned forward, ready for battle. “Let’s just focus on not letting this thing hurt us, okay?”

“Grr, alright, whatever. Timburr, don’t get in the way!” Gurdurr shouted as he joined her side. Scar stood between them with both arms raised, and then the monster roared at them, loud and strong enough to blow a heavy wind against them.

Brine expected the first move to be an array of savage slashes and stabs. With a stinger that large, this monster would be silly not to, or it was simply toying with them. But instead of coming right for them, the monster leaned forward and laid on the floor, holding itself up with its claws.

“What?” she whispered seconds before danger. With an otherworldly bellow, a stream of flames fired from its mouth, which spread the further they went. By the time the fire reached the group, it was a wall of flame, and the three of them crossed their arms over their fronts.

For Brine, her powers activated on instinct. Her bracelets glowed, and a bubble of water formed around her. Although it doused the flames, she was left surrounded by a humid cloud of steam thick enough to blur her view.

“Damn it!” Gurdurr’s voice came through. He’d charged ahead to try and hit the monster, but just one of its claws held back his girder like it was a toy. The size difference between the two was frightening. When Brine’s view settled, it looked like the monster might bite Gurdurr in half.

“Gurdurr!” she shouted, and flicked an arm up. A pillar of water sprouted between Gurdurr and the monster, but it barely helped. He stumbled back for a moment, and then the monster backhanded him away.

She growled and tightened her grip on her weapon. She would need a lot more power than that to make that thing flinch. But she knew better than to throw away her water in a big attack. She still had the desert to think about.

In her moment of hesitation, the monster took off into the air, its wings creating heavy pulses that pushed the group back. Then it aimed its stinger at them, and its body swelled.

“Get behind me!” Scar cried.

Before the trio could do that, a glob of purple fluid flew from the stinger straight towards Brine. She reacted with a flick of her kendama, which threw the ball across her front. A wave of water followed the ball, which blocked the poison attack just in time.

The monster let out a low growl and kept its stinger aimed at her. It began to fire several bursts of fluid, glob after glob with erratic aim somewhere in her direction. Brine gasped and took off towards Scar, where she had to dive to get behind him. Gurdurr was already there.

“I swear that’s Sludge Bomb?” he asked, crouched behind the Muk.

“And a fire attack earlier, too. This thing can use Pokémon attacks, while we can’t,” Brine growled. She tried to look up, but it just kept spitting poison at them. Even though Scar took the attacks with his back, his face twisted with strain and grumbles.

Ugh, just do it, Brine. Do it! Hit ‘em where it hurts!” she shouted to herself, and stood up. She focused on her kendama, manipulating the toy in way that made the ball bounce in a pattern. A thin stream of water formed to draw that pattern, which then surrounded her body. Seconds later, Brine was submerged in water, while the same pattern formed above her head, made entirely of water. The bigger it got, the more Brine tensed up, and her throat began to dry.

The monster’s attacks stopped when it noticed Brine’s special move, and that signalled her to unleash it. With a shout and a thrust of her paw, the water above her shot forwards in a beam. In the blink of an eye, it smashed into the monster’s chest, and it recoiled and screeched violently.

“Yes!” Scar pumped a fist. His smile reversed as quickly as it formed, though.

Her attack had merely knocked the monster back. It wasn’t taken off balance, nor did it show any damage as a result. And a quick glance at Brine showed that the attack had put her on one paw and a knee. She gasped for breath, and her voice sounded like it had dried out.

Once the water stopped, the monster made a noise, and then pointed its maw again. The gleam of a Flamethrower grew within, and that threw Scar into turmoil. “Guys, I see a less than ten percent chance we can get through this.”

“Less math crap, more movement!” Gurdurr said as he scooped up Brine and made a break for it. The Flamethrower just about missed him, but it wouldn’t stop coming either, so he had to run to escape it.

“Gurdurr!” Brine gasped. The sound of flames grew louder frighteningly fast, and then a heated blast went off. Gurdurr was thrown to the floor with an agonising cry, and fell on top of her. They scraped and rolled against sandy cobbles, even though all they could see was the light of the fountain.

Brine was the first to stand back up. She breathed hard through her mouth and wiped her forehead, but flinched when she felt a cut. Gurdurr beside her was barely any better. His back was blackened by the fire attack. Scar was sliding toward them in a panic, while the monster glared from a distance.

“It’s so powerful,” she whispered, shivering at the sight of it. “What the heck can I do? I’m practically out of water, these two can’t get close, and we haven’t dealt any damage at all. Is this is how difficult the Shining Warrior trials are?

The monster’s growls grew deeper as it slowly drew closer. Brine stumbled backward at the same pace, gritting her teeth at it. “Do we have to try and use Bestia, too? Or is there some other secret trick to beating it?

Her focus shattered the moment it opened its mouth again. Out came another wave of fire, which she thrust her paws at to try and channel her powers. But her body stiffened, and no water came. An instant before that fire hit, she gasped and her eyes widened.

And then her mind blanked out. She couldn’t hear, and even though she shut her eyes, orange and red smeared her view. She knew that she screamed out, but she couldn’t hear anything. This only lasted for a second, and broke when her back hit the cobbles below, which were cool and cold compared to the flames that bathed her front.

Her body was blistering. The kind of pain that’s so intense that it doesn’t register right away. Her senses came back one by one, and were mostly focused on which parts of her hurt the most. The burning sensation seemed to quickly die down, though only to a level that felt like her front had been torn off. Her breaths were hoarse and heavy, and her heart raced.

“Brine! Brine, say something!” Scar shouted.

“Get yourself together you old pile of goop! You’re gonna poison her!” Gurdurr shouted and slapped Scar away. He growled as he cradled her without hesitation. “We’re getting’ outta here. One way or another.”

She managed to gasp, and then sputtered weakly. “Wa-wait, what about the village? A-and your girder…”

“We’re making the right move, Brine. There’s no way we’re beating that thing as we are now,” Scar said.

Brine grit her teeth. “I thought I was strong enough to do this. My water powers can do anything, and I still lost to this.

The monster allowed them to run away, though it watched them the whole time. When they disappeared behind the light of the fountain, it shook the world with a feral roar which sounded like a screech.

As for Brine and the group, they didn’t stop until they were far into the desert. Gurdurr collapsed onto all fours as a sweaty mess, while Scar slumped forward, his crystals marked with burns. Brine managed to sit up, but shivered in her efforts to try and stand up. She was covered from head to toe in black marks.

They were on a tall dune that overlooked the Bestia Fountain. She couldn’t take her eyes off it, even though it hurt to look at. A month of work, of hopes and dreams, gone. All because she wasn’t strong enough. All because she hadn’t taken Angel seriously when she became a Shining Warrior.

But what hurt the most was her failure of duty. Those negative, cynical words were flowing through her mind again. She wasn’t a lazy scumbag of a phony hero, but one that was too weak to do what she needed to do.

To her, she was just as bad.
 
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Equitial

Pokémon Trainer
Pronouns
he/him
Partners
  1. espurr
  2. inkay
I know you asked for Brine Episode 1 to be reviewed, but also I felt like finishing Lucca’s :wink:. Brine’s is after his.


Review for Lucca Episode 2

“Here is your tea my lord,” Stufful said. He walked across the throne room with a teacup on his head like it was second nature, not needing to balance the cup at all. The cup actually had water in it.

Man, this first paragraph tickled my fancy. And this first paragraph is also where I begin to really appreciate Mimia. His relationship with Lucca genuinely precious immediately, and I’m just a fan of this odd duck in general. Just… cuteness. I loved little moments where they were just happy together:

The two Pokémon standing before him had childishly excited grins.


I was, however, a bit confused concerning just how sapient Mimia was. Of course, Mimia had weapons and can speak, but he felt extremely passive in this chapter. For example, this moment I found a bit odd:

“He was called Mimia,” Lucca said slowly. He glanced at Mimia, who took a moment to glance back. Mimia tilted his head. “I don’t think it’s right changing that name. And I like it, anyway.”

It implied Lucca could change Mimia’s name if so desired -- and how would Mimia feel about that? And there were some other comments that kind of struck me as odd… I know there’s a language barrier, but I feel like Mimia could have had more engagement with the other characters.


Even when the path changed angle to go forward again, things continued to feel worse. It was hot down here, and silent enough to hear every stroke of water and bubbly breath. Discarded bones lay by the walls and corners, while the stone walls had far more cracks, marks, or stains.

Moving on, I still appreciate the setting-details in this fic. I like how much attention you give to each area; it really adds a lot of atmosphere. There were a lot of passages like the above that I liked.


A lot was covered in Lucca’s final conversation with his father. The revelation of the frozen Pokémon… what a giant piece of info for his father to drop right before he leaves. I almost wish Lucca had more time to reflect on this, but at the same time this new knowledge makes his quest all the more urgent.

The mere mention of the word ‘killing’ made his chest heavy. “I-I only have to do it if I absolutely have to, right? Like, only if there’s no other way to stop those Pokémon from being bad.”

Hmm, mentions of what kinds of darkness may come during Lucca’s journey. I find Lucca’s father’s warning especially interesting considering what kind of life Lucca has led so far. He’s known so few Pokémon, all of whom were necessarily precious to him. Lucca’s world is about to expand; how will he react to the worst parts of it?

Silence responded, and he sighed again. “But I know more than anyone that life moves in unexpected ways. This time, the Aska will succeed.”

I’m skipping back to think a little bit on how, if Lucca fails, his father says it will come to his children. I wonder… how long has this prophecy been around? Does Lucca’s father saying “this time” mean that he once tried to do what Lucca will attempt? And what about Lucca’s father's parents; how far back does this go?


“Well yes, but their language is completely different to that of your friend. Or Pokémon, for that matter,” Alver said. He grumbled something. “Don’t you find it odd or unsettling, though? I thought Mimia to be the silent type, and that you figured out his wants through body language. He never ever responds to anything I say or do. And now I see he talks to you through those… noises. But I know he can talk. Rather fluently for someone who was feral, too. Don’t you find that rather suspicious?”

I find Alver’s questions to be interesting, and I’m curious to know the answers. How will things like language work once Lucca and Alver reach Heroica? And how much of Mimia’s oddness comes from being from a different land. and how much comes from his own backstory and character?

Mimia whined pleasantly and nuzzled him a bit.

“Aww. Where would I be without you, anyway? If fate exists, it has funny ways of acting,” Lucca said, nuzzling back.

Friends ❤

From blue, to complete darkness, to a frightening red, this mountain went. And all of it was made of an unnaturally smooth rock. Unlike everywhere else in Reverie, this place almost looked like it had been sculpted and somehow retained all the finesse granted by the sculptor.

Liked this bit of description.

I really appreciated the descriptions as they reached the peak of the mountain. From seeing the rest of Reverie from their height, to foreboding runes written on the wall, and the description of the peak and the monster that resides there, it all felt really vivid. My favorite detail in this chapter was the Stonjourner:

Faces appeared on the giant stone arches around them, and from those, they sung a heavenly choir in perfect sync. The song brought the monster to a stop, and it turned around. Lucca and the group stopped dead.

Now, the action sequence. I feel like there was a bit too much dialogue during the battle scene, but overall I liked it. I liked how Mimia and Lucca worked together, and -- in comparison to before -- Lucca’s determination and talent really shone through:

“We can’t give up, not after coming this far. There has to be something,” Lucca said.

Then comes Angel. I have to admit that I couldn’t identify her species at first (I realized she was a Togekiss when I looked at the fic banner), but her personality came through right away. She’s going to be an interesting guide for this quest, isn’t she?

“Nothing you can do to miraculously get us out of this, huh?” he growled.

“Huh? Oh yeah sure I can handle that. Or you can, anyway. I’m gonna give you guys a boost of Bestia. But you’ve only got one Pokémon attack, ya’hear?” Angel said.

I really liked this conclusion to the battle against the Guzzlord. I feel like it illustrates what the heroes are looking for, this amazing power. I like how even though Lucca had never used a move before, it still felt familiar, reinforcing that it’s something vital that the Pokémon of this universe have lost.

For a brief moment, she turned into a blue flame and sunk into Lucca. At that moment, instincts sparked up within him. He had never used a Pokémon attack before, yet he knew exactly how to use what he intended to use.

All in all, I enjoyed this chapter. A whole bunch of stuff happened, and the characters have really grown on me. I feel like it could have been sanded down a bit – a bit too much dialogue – but I felt engaged throughout. After this, I’m really interested to see what Lucca and Mimia do now in the land of Heroica!


Review for Brine Episode 1

So, I actually tried reading this chapter before Lucca’s, but I got so confused I decided to put it down. I can kind of see the rationale for letting potential Catnip readers try different episodes first, but I’m not sure how well that would work. For me, there were a lot of terms and names I had to muddle through – and I had read a chapter before. After Lucca’s Episode, this was a lot more digestible.

“That should do it for today, don’t you think?” Brine said. The Pikachu was sat back on the wooden frame of a tall house, where she looked down at a Muk who gathered a few more planks. Despite the house being in the middle of construction, held together by mere ropework, she leisurely kicked her feet and rocked the wood.

I appreciate the starting concept of this episode, two Pokémon building a lone village in the middle of the desert. It’s a neat image and an interesting way to be introduced to this new main character. From the start, we get to see Brine as the idealistic non-conventional thinker who would agree to such an endeavor.

“I can’t stop you from being a warrior. As much as it pains me to be alone again, what has to be done, has to be done! Whilst I must build this village in the desert, you must wander the planet. This is one hundred percent fate!”

I also like this side character, Scar. He doesn’t get that much screentime, but immediately he gets a clear personality from his mission and somewhat odd way of speaking. Whether he’ll remain a minor character or have a bigger role, I appreciate his starting character.

Brine’s flashback scene with Angel felt a bit unnecessary. It doesn’t seem to tell much new. General readers will know the Bestia legend better than I (who has only read Lucca’s chapters before this), we've already got a good impression about Brine’s character from her convo with Scar. There’s Angel pointing out Brine being “watermarked”, but could be easily fit in elsewhere. Also, going back in time like this makes the pacing feel sort of wonky. I wonder if this conversation could have left out entirely – after all, Brine is presumably the fourth character to be contacted by Angel. If not, this could be shortened a good bit and maybe just put at the beginning?

Sand made her forepaws itchy and blisteringly hot, though she didn’t feel it until now.

Hours passed before she got there. Her face was drenched in sweat, sand itched her body, and all the other annoyances of a desert trip plagued her form.

Throughout the chapter, I noted the way you describe the desert. You really make it feel hot. I do not deal with heat well at all, and I was sympathetically sweating with Brine.

Anyway, I mentioned that Brine was watermarked. That’s interesting 👀

With all the open space to run around in, she didn’t have to worry about accidentally destroying a building or something like she did in the past. Sprinting on all fours, her bracelets flashed and rainwater began to swarm around her in thick streams. A moment later, she was submerged in a beam of water that sped across the land faster than any of her attackers could hope to keep up with.

She glanced back to see their figures fade into the distance, and laughed. The moment she did, water forced its way down her throat and she choked, dispelling her powers completely. With all that momentum, she rolled forward while coughing and sputtering, and ended up splashing headfirst into a swampy puddle somewhere in the middle of the fields. She was so frantic to get up and brush that mud out of her eyes that she slipped and fell right back in, where it felt like it went up her nose this time.

I really like this description of her abilities. Not only does this more practically illustrate how she can use them, but it also kind of demonstrates how she feels about them as well. Having these kinds of abilities is so amazing. I like that image of her merging with the rain, zooming over the land at high speeds. But of course, the downsides. Being watermarked is apparently very taboo, and she definitely has a lot of baggage about it. When she falls and gets all muddy, also thanks to her abilities, I kind of feel like it’s all a metaphor for her feelings? I like this bit anyway.

It was like routine. A routine she hated more than anything, but had no reason to accept. Every time she went to a town, the moment a Pokémon or two saw how she handled water, it wouldn’t be long before she was chased by a crowd with bladed weapons. In her latest escapade, she at least had the benefit of rainy weather on her side.

It was only a small village with cobble roads and fields surrounding it. Yet still, a single use of her powers to help out a Pichu with a lost ball had resulted in the whole village chasing her. Or at least, that’s what it felt like.

I don’t mind the concept of Brine being ostracized for her abilities, but something about this feels over-exaggerated. Kind of the way you emphasize she is always chased by a huge crowd, and the way she mentions giving herself up just to help a kid with a lost toy. I feel like this could be played more subtly, I guess.

The Flygon was tangled up in a sash engraved with old runes and markings, yet they didn’t seem to be tripping over themselves in any way. The sash started from somewhere and went around their neck, then over a wing, around their tail a few times, then the opposite arm, and even their hair. Whatever this erratic design choice was, it didn’t hinder the Flygon at all.

I don’t have that much to say about Panzer, but her design is really neat.

Forget it, Brine. With all of them there, it gives me a chance to shop in peace,” she said to herself. It looked like the whole city had shown up to watch whatever was happening, so she stopped to watch the stage from a distance. It started when a quirky Flygon showed up. “Wait, what’s up with them?”

I noticed in this chapter that you seem to have more unclear/awkward passages than in Lucca’s. For example, I’m confused as to what is happening in this paragraph. She was telling herself to move on, but then she stopped to watch? And my first impression was that the ending dialogue was Flygon’s.

The crowd started chattering again, but were silenced by a few knights who joined her on stage. Brine stayed in a corner to try and keep out of general sight, but the moment she saw those metal clad creatures, she shifted. “What in the world are those?

Again, I’m a bit confused. Brine wonders what the armored Pokémon are, but the description just calls them knights? I’m not sure what she was confused about.

The area was always dusty and peach coloured, a direction opposite to the soft fields of the rest of the city. But you always got what you wanted when you came here.

Not quite sure what this means.

“It’s a very big if. I know from last time, anyway. Pokémon told me to help ‘em out, so I did. Gave ‘em a whole chunk of hard weapons and treasures, even Derris Ore. That shit sells for a fortune!” He slammed his girder again. His fists cracked and veins throbbed. “I thought it was fishy that they kept coming back, but I thought I’d be the nice guy, play hero’s helper and all that. Next thing I hear, they’re living the high life, drinking and partyin’ down at the lounge!”

I probably have not nearly enough context to be making theories, but I wonder if those people were actual heroes. Maybe something about this fic is that it deals with these six trying to complete a journey others have attempted but failed. Typing this out, I realize I’m implicating Lucca’s father in this because I also guessed he once tried this. Lucca’s father doesn’t seem like the type, or maybe it was someone else?

“Right? I’ma continue on the way I do things now, anyway. If they show up, then they show up; I’m not gonna treat them any different from any old Pokémon. Until we get our Pokémon attacks back, Gurdurr Construction has gotta do what it’s gotta do!” he said, and threw a fist up high. “Which brings us back to business. What’cha here for, Brine?”

Like with Scar, I like Gurdurr.

Why me? What could I have that could possibly make me a Shining Warrior? All I want to do is find Mother.

So does Brine’s wandering have an exterior motive?

And back into the crowd she went. A river of conversations blurred together, while the Pokémon all seemed to be more restless than earlier. She noticed a lot more running and pushing, and a lot less cursing and complaining directed at her. There was no doubt, too – she kept hearing them mention the Shining Warriors. They were the talk of the town.

The whole segment that follows after the above felt unnecessary to me. The ire of the townspeople was demonstrated well enough back in the plaza and with Gurdurr. The scene culminates with Brine being mad and have an internal debate, but I want her to demonstrate character development rather than read an internal monologue about it.

That made her gasp. “That’s right. Most of these Pokémon don’t even know that Undine exist. But somewhere out there, there was a Pokémon that fell in love with an Undine, and had me. Somewhere, there are Pokémon open to accepting anything, even scary things they don’t know, and they can love those things. My journey is for those Pokémon…

I don’t know what an Undine is either, so. Each character has had two episodes for themselves, so I wonder what’s going to be covered in Brine’s next. She has a lot of backstory and worldbuilding to her.

She turned on her side and sighed. “I don’t even know if I want to do this or not. I don’t want to seem lazy or entitled…

She was drawing shapes in the sand with a finger, and stopped. She couldn’t finish her own sentence. But she sat there and tried to, and kicked herself to her feet with a loud groan. “This whole thing is stupid!”

I don’t really understand Brine’s train of logic. I don't see why she would be lazy/entitled for doing this.

“Hmpf. Nice to know you’re gonna miss me.” She rolled her eyes. Another pause. “Okay, this one’s serious.”

“Go ahead.”

“When I’m gone, don’t tell those guys that I’m watermarked. Don’t tell anyone that I’m watermarked. They can’t know about my powers, or that I was here, okay?” she said.

Interesting to see where Brine’s priorities lie. I sense so many conflicting feelings in her, which I’m going to talk about at the end of this review.

“This. I’ve seen this before. I am one hundred percent certain. This is a Bestia Fountain!” Scar said as he slid his way between them.

Huh, where has Scar seen a Bestia Fountain before? I wonder if that’s connected to hypothetical past heroes.

“I swear that’s Sludge Bomb?” he asked, crouched behind the Muk.

“And a fire attack earlier, too. This thing can use Pokémon attacks, while we can’t,” Brine growled

Oh, by the way, one thing I’m confused about is how exactly Brine’s abilities work. She’s been accused of wasting Bestia, but apparently her water abilities aren’t actually moves? What exactly differentiates Brine’s and the Nagandel’s attacks?

Brine grit her teeth. “I thought I was strong enough to do this. My water powers can do anything, and I still lost to this.

Anyway, I really like how this chapter ends and how it sets up Brine’s character conflict. For however long, Brine has been “watermarked” – possessing this incredible power but being stigmatized for it. Now she’s been chosen as a hero, which comes with its own similar issues. Brine has a lot of duality with how she views her abilities and herself. She is proud of her abilities, places a lot of faith in them, but she’s ashamed enough that asks Scar not to tell anyone when she’s gone. This is a really interesting character concept and I just find her really interesting. Being a hero is just adding more to her current struggles, and yeah. All in all, I feel like this chapter could have been edited better to compress content and clear up some awkward wording, but the set-up for Brine’s character was very intriguing.
 
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